Shakespeare's Tragedy "King Lear" Puts Across An Essay

Length: 5 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy Type: Essay Paper: #25620419 Related Topics: Shakespeare, Black Death, Rhetorical Analysis, Character
Excerpt from Essay :

Shakespeare's tragedy "King Lear" puts across an episode involving a king, his three daughters, and various important members of their kingdom as they come across events that put their humanity to test and that provide each of them with circumstances where they have to demonstrate their ability to distinguish between right and wrong. The play presents audiences with cruelty, suffering and the general feeling that divine powers are uninterested in the well-being of people. One of the principal elements in the play is related to morality and to whether it can be considered to exist in a world where evil and righteous people are provided with a similar treatment. The theme of justice dominates the play and influences audiences in acknowledging the fact that people are mainly responsible for making the world a reasonable place.

Most readers of "King Lear" are likely to agree that the play exaggerates the concepts of brutality and pain with the purpose of presenting audiences with the fact that the world is not just. Many characters in the play are provided with the opportunity to do justice and are either unable to put it into practice or have difficulties as they take on moral attitudes. Similarly, other characters suffer greatly because they constantly come across conditions that emphasize the fact that it is impossible for society to be impartial.

Shakespeare wanted to introduce the concept of human frailty into this play in an attempt to have people realize that anyone is predisposed to employ unfair judgment, regardless of the respective person's character. While individuals are apparently to employ complex thinking in decision-making processes, it is very difficult for them to perform correct choices. Even if a person appears to differentiate himself or herself from the masses through the positive feelings that he or she puts across, he or she is not exempted from committing transgressions. Justice is generally absent from "King Lear," considering that while some characters receive correct punishments for their crimes, other are provided with harsh treatments in spite of the fact that their actions did not have a particularly negative effect on their foes.

It is very probable that Shakespeare concentrated on thinking contemporary to him at the time when he wrote "King Lear," as he knew that audiences would have to identify with character in the play in order to gain a better understanding of it. Religion was especially important in the 17th century, thus meaning that people would have less trouble comprehending the message that a play was going to convey as long as it addressed a religious topic. Religious leaders promoted the belief that people who commit evil acts are punished by a divine authority. As a result, it is very probable that people living contemporary to Shakespeare believed that "King Lear" would end with evil characters being punished for their sins and with good prevailing. However, the matter is divisive, as it is difficult to determine whether good actually triumphs over evil at the end of the play, considering that many good characters are punished throughout the play and receive little to no compensation for their suffering. It would be absurd for someone to consider that good triumphed over evil provided that it only did so after great sacrifices. From Shakespeare's opinion, there are a lot of intervening factors influencing the way that justice is delivered, as it is impossible for it to be implemented correctly for all individuals.

At the time when good initially triumphs, audiences see King Lear as he reunites with his daughter and as they both come to control...


This makes it possible for people to consider that good is always more powerful than evil. Conversely, the future of Britain is yet again depressing when it is revealed that the forces of good are defeated. Hope is not something that people should look up to, and, instead of being constantly supportive in regard to optimism, they should actually take into account the fact that one cannot predict the future through thinking that good will always prevail. Human nature is difficult to evaluate on account of values like good and evil. People are generally predisposed to perform a series of tasks, even with the fact that society generally prefers to attribute certain characteristics to mankind.

Shakespeare is apparently unwilling to doubt the existence of a divine force, as his main focus lies in demonstrating that people should not make assumptions based on the belief that good always triumphs. While the forces of good eventually manage to prevail, the costs associated with their victory are disturbing. Many people in the play deserved to die and lost their lives as a result of their own actions. However, Cordelia's death is impossible to explain, given that she committed no immorality. A higher authority is able to put justice into practice, but it apparently has a different understanding of justice.

Knowledge is essential in assisting an individual experience ethical progress, as he or she is likely to behave morally if he or she goes through experiences that teach him or her in regard to the difference between right and wrong. Even in this situation, the respective person can still make mistakes when coming across conditions that are unknown to him or her. The moment when Edgar defeats Edmund influences audiences in thinking that divine justice does, in fact, exist. However, people are likely to change their opinion in the next scene as Lear enters bearing Cordelia's body in his hands. The fact that negative characters are eventually punished for their wrongdoings contributes to the belief that there is a higher authority responsible for imposing justice. This concept is rapidly deposed by Cordelia's death, given that there is virtually no logical explanation for this event. It makes it possible for audiences to return to thinking about the pain and suffering created by initial displays of impartiality. People are forced to question the existence of a divine power in charge of implementing fairness and to consider that society is solely responsible for people's fates. Shakespeare cunningly tricked people into believing that the world is controlled by a higher authority, only to have them acknowledge that there is no such thing and that the human nature is capable of performing both good and evil deeds, mostly depending on circumstances and on the way that individuals think. All things considered, justice came with a terrible price -- the death of an innocent individual. A divine authority that had the power to impose its control over its subjects would not have allowed the death of Cordelia. It is very probable that Shakespeare wanted the play to end with a controversy for the purpose of having people uncertain regarding their own personalities. Audiences that accept the importance of justice in a society that lacks it entirely are more likely to understand that people are responsible for everything that happens and that they are the only ones in charge of making justice possible.

King Lear's character is very important in understanding the complexity of the human mind. He is initially shown as an authoritarian individual who performs raging decisions and his nature becomes dominated by madness as the play progresses, only for him to turn into a humble individual at the end that regrets his actions of the play. It is as if he needs to undergo several stages in order to fully understand the concept of justice. It seems that a person first needs to have feelings so as for him or her to be able to put across compassion.

"King Lear" provides audiences with a world where justice is inexistent at most times and where characters are more or less likely to receive treatment based on their actions. When considering human nature and the…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works cited:

Shakespeare, William, "King Lear," 1723.

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