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❶The third time that we shall consider Lear upon the heath will be the last, for the full art of tragedy has three dimensions, like anything with depth. So far our view of King Lear has been both panoramic and confined.

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Lear challenges the storm; he arraigns his daughters before a justice so perverted that it is represented by the Fool and Edgar disguised as a madman; he imagines impotently that he is raising an avenging army and is distracted by a mouse; and he assumes he is judging a culprit guilty of adultery and finds no sin because he finds the sin universal. Yet a master of tragic drama would also sense that, in scenes depicting a great change in thought and state of mind, action should be kept to a certain minimum, lest too much outer clangor obscure the inner vibrations and tragedy pass over into melodrama.

He would sense, too, that language suggesting madness, if sufficiently understood, would put tremendous demands upon our powers of concentration. Three scenes lead to the madness of Lear and are alternated with three leading to the blinding of Gloucester. Suffering, then, as it works out its lonely and final course upon the heath, is combined with action such as initiated it.

Thus the interplay of these two tragedies gives to both more than either singly possesses of intelligibility, suspense, probability, and tragic concern. It is not enough, therefore, that action in these scenes is kept at a certain minimum and within this guarded minimum is maximal, or that the action also is dramatic, involving conflict.

Distraction that is great and is not the general confusion of a battle but centered and ultimately internal is rightly made out of a certain minimum of material that can be assimilated and out of material already somewhat assimilated.

Moreover, such a reduction of material not only helps our understanding at a moment in literature when it stands most in need of help; actually, art attains the maximum of unexpectedness out of restricted sources as a good mystery story limits the number of possible murderers and out of material already introduced and about which we have expectations as the best mystery stories are not solved by material that has been kept from us by the detective and the writer until the end.

While on the heath, Lear might have been attacked by a gang of robbers and, in culminating suffering, have thought this some symbolic act, signifying that all men are beasts of prey; surely, it is much more surprising that it is the legitimate son of Gloucester, counterpart of Cordelia, who makes him think this. We add that Kent, too, is present in these scenes and that a point constantly calm is useful in the art of making madness.

The musical analogy of a theme with variations must be used only up to a certain point and then dropped lest it stop us, as it has stopped some others, from going farther and seeing that these scenes are a part of a great poem and that in this part a noble man goes mad, which is something more than orchestration, although orchestration has its purposes. Ultimately, we are confronted with a poetical event; and the storm, the Fool, and Poor Tom are not only variations on madness but happenings on the way which collectively constitute the event.

That is, the setting and two characters, all previously somewhat external to Lear, successively become objects of his thought, and then become himself transubstantiated. The storm becomes the tempest in his mind; the Fool becomes all wretches who can feel, of whom Lear is one, although before he had not recognized any such wide identity; and then a worse wretch appears, seemingly mad, protected against the universe by a blanket, scarred by his own wounds, and concentrating upon his own vermin.

In the first appearance of Lear upon the heath Act III, scene 2 the daughters are already identified with the storm and the underlying powers of the universe, and Lear dares to defy them and to confront the universe, even though he now sees what he began to see at the end of Act II, that the ultimate powers may be not moral but in alliance with his daughters. Either possibility, however, he can face with defiance: Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.

What he knew at the opening of the earlier scene that he must avoid now becomes his total occupation, and the mind now revels in what the mind once knew it could not endure. It is later, properly much later, when we see Lear again, since by then he has found in madness an answer to the questions that led him there. Then, looming upon his mind, is a universe the basic substance of which is female:.

In the opening of this section we promised to say something about these scenes as being tragic wholes as well as parts of a fearful and pitiful event, and already a good deal has been said indirectly about their separate natures. But their natures are not only separate; they are tragic, each one arousing and then to a degree purging the emotions of fear and pity.

And such, in a general way, is the emotional movement of the other two scenes in which Lear appears in Act III—they begin with Lear alarmingly agitated; the agitation mounts with the appearance of Poor Tom or with the prospect of arraigning his daughters in hell ; but in the enactment of the enormous moment he and we get some kind of emotional release for which undoubtedly there is some clinical term, not, however, known to me or to the Elizabethans or to most people who have felt that at the end of each of these scenes both they and Lear have been given mercifully an instant not untouched with serenity on the progress to chaos.

There are many tragedies of considerable magnitude the effects of which, however, are almost solely macrocosmic. The greatest of tragic writers built his macrocosms out of tragedy upon tragedy upon tragedy. The third time that we shall consider Lear upon the heath will be the last, for the full art of tragedy has three dimensions, like anything with depth. The tragedy with depth is compounded out of a profound conception of what is tragic and out of action tragically bent, with characters commensurate to the concept and the act—and, finally, it is composed out of writing.

The maximal statement of an art always makes it easier to see how many lesser artists there are and why; and thus the author of The American Tragedy could not write—a failing not uncommon among authors—and the author of Manfred , although a very great writer in many ways, was so concentrated upon his personal difficulties that he could form no clear and large conception of the tragic, and his tragic action is almost no action at all.

It is easy to understand why the moments of a drama usually singled out for discussion are those that are obviously important and splendid with a kind of splendor that gives them an existence separate from their dramatic context, like passages of Longinian sublimity; but this study is so committed to the tragic drama that it will forego the sublime—although few dramas offer more examples of it and concentrate, instead, upon an incident and a speech, the importance and splendor of which appear largely as one sees a tragic drama unfold about them.

On a technical level, this incident is a unit because it is a piece of dramatic business—in these lines, Shakespeare is engaged in the business of introducing a character:. Now, the business of introducing a character can be transacted quickly in brackets—[ Enter Edgar, disguised as a madman ]—and when the character is some straggler in the play or not so much a character as some expository information, like a messenger, then the introduction properly can be cursory.

And artistic size, as we said earlier, has qualitative as well as quantitative aspects. From the time Poor Tom first speaks until the end of this passage, his name is given five times, and it is given the first time he speaks. Yet a complete introduction does more than fasten on a name, especially if the person is distinctive and we should be warned about him. Or, if confirmation is sought from literature, we may turn to the opening of the first scene of Hamlet and note how many times in the excitement the names of Bernardo, Marcellus, and Horatio are called back and forth and how often the ghost is referred to before he appears.

This introduction, then, has one of the qualities of all good writing, intelligibility, and in circumstances not favorable to understanding.

Moreover, this is an introduction achieving a maximum of unexpectedness and suspense, effects desirable in themselves as well as qualitative signs that the character being introduced is dramatically important.

When he does come forth, we have identified and awaited him, but unexpectedly and in consternation Lear identifies him—identifies him as himself. Then, surely, it is unexpected that the alter Lear goes into the singsong of a mad beggar whining for a handout. As merely unexpected, the entry of Poor Tom is a diversion and serves a purpose: The art of tragic relief is itself worth a study, although all its highest manifestations are governed by two conjoined principles—the moment of relief should be psychologically needed, but the moment of relief should be a momentary illusion which as it is dispelled, only deepens the tragedy.

Mere unexpectedness thus becomes consummate unexpectedness, with what seems to be a turning from tragedy an entry into darker recesses; and the entry of Poor Tom, viewed first as a piece of technical business, is the appearance of greater tragedy. At first the multiple identification is scarcely noticeable, since it depends only upon similarity in immediate and outer circumstances—others besides Poor Tom are led through fire and flood.

Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. The oldest hath borne most. We that are young Shall never see so much, nor live so long. He says that we must remember this day. We should speak what we feel, not what we should say. The oldest people suffer the most. Younger people will never experience or seen as much as oldest people. Morrie teaches him live the life fullest. Mitch and fool place as an essential supporting role in the story, it supports and completes the story plot throughout the whole story.

However, both main characters has polar opposite view of life initially, it teaches them lessons and acquire true wisdom by experiencing death. Essay UK - http: Although Kent, his loyal advisor begged Lear to see closer to the true faces of his daughters, he ignored him and became even more angry because Kent hurt Lear's pride by disobeying his order to stay out of his and Cordelia's way Lear had already warned him, "The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft.

Kent still disobeys Lear and hurts his pride further as he said, "Now by Apollo, King, thos swearest thy gods in vain. Finally, Kent is banished. Because of the flaw of pride, Lear has initiated the tragedy by perturbing the order in the chain of being as he gives up his thrown, divides the kingdom and banishes his loyalist servant and loveliest daughter.

The downfall of Lear is not just the suffering of him alone but the suffering of everyone down the chain of being. For instance, Lear's pride and anger caused Cordelia and Kent to be banished, and Gloucester loses his position and eyes.

Everything that happened to these characters are in a chain of reaction and affected by Lear's tragic flaw. If Lear did not lack of personal insight and if he did not have such an obstinate pride, he would not have banished Cordelia and Kent, then Goneril and Regan would not be able to conspire against Lear. Without the plot of Goneril and Regan, Gloucester would not have been betrayed by Edmund and lose his eyes and status due to the charge of treason.

Moreover, the chain of reaction was continuous until the lowest person in the society is affected; the fool, which is the entertainer, was kicked out into the storm with Lear by Goneril because he was smart enough to tell the truth of Lear's blindness.

When thou clovest thy crown I' the middle and gavest away both parts, thou borest thine ass on thy back o'er the dirt. Thou hadst little wit in thy bals crown when thou gavest thy golden one away.

Due to his flaw, he gave the two daughters a chance to conspire against him and he was finally thrown out of his daughters home and left with a fool, a servant and a beggar. When Lear was left alone in the storm, he started to lose his sanity and realize his fault to banish Cordelia and Kent. Before the thrown out of Regan's home, Lear suffered for shelter food and clothes as he said, "On my knees I beg that you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.

He began to realize the true faces of his daughters and did not want to see them again, as he said, "I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad.

I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell. Well no more meet, no more see one another.. I prithee take him in thy arms I have o'er heard a plot of death upon him, There is a little ready; lay him in it and drive toward Dover, friend, where thou shalt med both welcome and protection. Unfortunately, the calamity continued instantaneously. He then suffered from the death of his youngest daughter Cordelia which broke his heart into pieces, "I might have saved her, now she's gone forever!

Stay a little Ha! What is't thou sayest? Her voice was ever soft, gentle, and low an excellent thing in woman. For instance, his being welcomed and praised by Goneril and Regan which contrasted to his being thrown out of their homes. Also, Lear's pride as a "Jupiter" contrasted an "old man" begging for shelter, food and clothes. In addition, the love from Cordelia when she was alive contrasted the death of Cordelia who could love Lear no longer.

As the play moved on, the pain and suffering accumulated in Lear's heart eventually tore down his strength and pride. Lear was no longer a strong, haughty, and prideful king as he was in the beginning of the play. Instead, he became a weak, modest, and confused old man. As we can see at the beginning, he expressed himself as the "Jupiter" and "Apollo".

However, at the end of the play, he expressed himself as "a very foolish fond old man. Just before he dies as a man in pain, he said, "And my poor fool is hanged!

Norman Maclean

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Essays and criticism on William Shakespeare's King Lear - Critical Essays. This free English Literature essay on Essay: King Lear is perfect for English Literature students to use as an example.

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King Lear is first presented in the first scene as an egocentric man who is ignorant of the many flaws in his personality. Lear has formed himself a personality and defined himself as an individual and utterly refuses to give up this vision of himself, one can only imagine the figure that Lear must have [ ]. critical essays and papers on King Lear by William Shakespeare.