Premium Essay

“the Family Is a Natural Hierarchy, and the Father Possesses Rightful Authority. the Violation of This Order in King Lear Leads to Tyranny, Cruelty and Moral Chaos in the Light of the Above Comment, Discuss Shakespeare’

In: English and Literature

Submitted By wutangjules
Words 1950
Pages 8
“The family is a natural hierarchy, and the father possesses rightful authority. The violation of this order in King Lear leads to tyranny, cruelty and moral chaos
In the light of the above comment, discuss Shakespeare’s presentation of family in King Lear?
According to the 2011 census in the UK, the stereotypical image of a family being a mother, father with two children- often one boy, one girl- living in a semi-detached or detached house is fast “becoming a myth”. Today’s census is expected to affirm the fact that there is a larger proportion of families with single mothers or fathers, and adults still living in the house with their parents. This real-life exemplar degradation of the family ethos resonates within King Lear as Lear almost intentionally disrupts his family community through his power-play and expressions of favouritism, essentially cutting himself off from communication with his three daughters as they all develop spiteful distaste for his actions. The ‘rightful authority’ which Lear certainly possesses in the first instances of the play is ironically reversed as his three daughters adopt the power and authority he abandoned when he stepped down from his position as monarch. The violation of this order in King Lear does indeed lead to tyranny, cruelty and moral chaos as a bitter power struggle ensues. On the other hand, however, the family being a ‘natural hierarchy’ is questionable as- especially in a monarchical family- whoever is heir to the throne, or the next higher position is essentially the possessor of rightful authority. Elizabeth I was the Queen at the time of King Lear, essentially causing her to be the possessor of rightful authority, despite not being the ‘father’ of her family.
Unless a family is communist, some sort of hierarchy must be sustained in order for examples to be set and for a cohesive, family environment to be…...

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

King Lear (to Be Finished)

...In the light of your critical readings how far areLear and Macbeth tragic protagonists? Example intro Normally, the common hero would be a character embodying megalopsychia. However, both Lear and Macbeth are conventionally tragic figures, even displaying anti-heroic qualities. Aristotle’s “Poetics” suggests that a tragic protagonist has greatness which is readily evident in the play. The Victorian critic A.C. Bradley picks up Aristotle’s notion to contend and mentions that although the protagonist is a person of greatness, they are not perfect and contain a tragic flaw which can lead to his downfall. Unlike most tragic protagonists, Lear’s fall occurs early in the play when he decides to express his “darker purpose” to Gloucester by dividing the kingdom between his three daughters. Firstly, this rash decision implies Lear’s downfall and prepares the audience for what is to come. Secondly, this would have alarmed a Jacobean audience who would remember how the question of succession had loomed large during the reign of Elizabeth 1. However, Lear does not show many noble attributes before his fall when he loses his temper at Cordelia and he tells her he will, “disclaim all my paternal care,” because she refuses to flatter him with praises and love. This is different to Macbeth who is seen as “brave” and “noble” in the early stages of the play due to killing the rebel, Macdonwald, and fighting off an attack from the Norwegians. Example 2 1. Throughout literary history,......

Words: 2304 - Pages: 10

Free Essay

Is King Lear Completely Pessimistic?

...think that the ending of King Lear is ‘unbearably pessimistic’. How far do you agree that there is no hope at the end of this play? The origins of Shakespeare’s play came from a variety of sources and, in particular, an old Pagan folktale, of another King Leir of Britain. It reveals that Shakespeare purposely turned these sources which offer a happy ending where Cordelia and Leir are left alive and together at the end and where everything is resolved, leaving the audience with a sense of relief and justice, into a bleak and sinister play where many of the virtuous die, including Cordelia and Lear, or are left in despair like Kent. Shakespeare’s change of ending appears to hint at a message of pessimism, darkness and no hope. Some people believe that it was Shakespeare’s intention to create a hopeless and pessimistic ending and leave the audience overwhelmed with tragedy. Indeed, W.R. Elton supports this final interpretation: ‘No redemption stirs at this world’s end; only suffering, tears, pity and loss and illusion.’ However, others believe that Shakespeare leaves little glimmers of optimism flickering in this ‘gored state.’ Shakespeare carefully structures that play to build a mood of pessimism as the play unravels towards its climax. Kent’s character plays a vital role in helping create this final bleak mood. Throughout the play Kent has been a positive, hopeful character devoted to his King: ‘let me still remain the true blank of thine eye.’ By this final scene he is......

Words: 2423 - Pages: 10

Premium Essay

Women’s Role in King Lear

...The twentieth century saw a number of diverse and rich readings of the play emerge as a result of the turbulent social changes of the century. A. C. Bradley saw this play as an individual coming to terms with his personality; that Lear was a great man and therefore the play is almost unfathomable. A feminist reading of the play reveals a number of Lear's misogynist remarks and has fueled the debate over whether the play's chaos occurred because power was given over to women, with order restored only when men were returned to their leadership roles. King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1603 and 1606, and is considered one of his greatest works. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological pre-Roman king. It has been widely adapted for stage and screen, with the part of Lear being played by many of the world's most accomplished actors. King Lear is one of the Shakespear’s achievement talked about a family with three daughters and the father. Father really loved his children however he loved the youngest one the most. In contrast, he got disappointed from the one whom he loved the most because she did not mention how much she loved him back. During his furiousity, he did a judgment about those three daughters. He considered the other two is better so he would love those much more and gave the heritages to those two. His decision was totally wrong because he did not get what he expected to get back. ...

Words: 2257 - Pages: 10

Premium Essay

King Lear

...KING LEAR Act One The play opens at Lear’s court, where we meet the main characters. The opening scene is in itself shocking, as Lear forces his daughters to declare their love for him. The one who loves him the most will receive the largest part of his kingdom, which he intends to divide between the three. Lear himself wishes to hand over the ruling of the kingdom to his daughters, while retaining the ‘Pre-eminence, and all the large effects / That troop with majesty’ (Scene 1, Lines 131-2). Goneril and Regan acquit themselves well at this love test. Cordelia, however, dismayed by her sisters’ ponderous words, refuses to take part in the ‘contest’ and tells Lear that she loves him as her duty instructs her. When Cordelia refuses to speak again, Lear casts her off without a moment’s hesitation. Ken attempts to argue with the King, accusing him of ‘hideous rashness’ (Scene 1, Line 151). When Kent further warns Lear that his elder daughters are false flatterers, Kent too is banished. Lear invests Albany and Cornwall with power, and, after Burgundy refuses to take Cordelia as his wife, now that she is without dowry, France takes her for her virtues alone. Goneril and Regan complain, in private, about Lear’s harsh judgement and unpredictable behaviour and worry that they too may be treated unfairly. Edmund, Gloucester’s bastard son, soliloquises about his own situation, revealing his devious intentions towards his brother. When his father enters, Edmund’s...

Words: 27223 - Pages: 109

Premium Essay

'Lear's Suffering Is Due to the Stripping Away of His Identity'. by Considering the Dramatic Presentation of King Lear, Evaluate This View.

...is due to the stripping away of his identity'. By considering the dramatic presentation of King Lear, evaluate this view. Shakespeare presents that the stripping away of King Lear's identity is largely responsible for much of his suffering throughout the play. Lear's identity can be seen as lost partly through his own actions, as well as the actions of others, in particular that of his daughters, Goneril and Regan. It can be argued that Lear's loss of identity is down to his own actions. Hence, he can be seen as responsible for causing his own suffering. According to A.C. Bradley 'The idea of the tragic hero as being destroyed simply and solely by external forces is quite alien to him (Shakespeare); and not less so is the idea of the hero as contributing to his destruction only by acts in which we see no flaw'. Bradley's emphasis on the tragic flaw implies that Shakespeare's character's bring their fates upon themselves and thus deserve to face the consequences. An example of this can be seen in Act 1, when Lear fragments his land and divides it between his daughters. The fragmentation of the land is symbolic of the way that Lear also fragments his identity. As king, Lear identifies himself solely on his position of power, and therefore by giving away his land his is also giving away the control he previously maintained over his kingdom, and thus his identity. However, Lear mistakenly believes that he can give up certain aspects of his role, including......

Words: 1784 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

Discuss in Detail Two Different Performances of King Lear on Stage, Film or Tv.

... Dr. D. Seddon Early Modern Literature Discuss in detail two different performances of King Lear on stage, film or TV. Your discussion should include an assessment of the relative merits of the directorial decisions as regards characterization, setting, costume, and dialogue. The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an 'objective correlative'; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked. (Eliot, 1919) William Shakespeare’s King Lear is considered by many to be one of his most powerful pieces. Its universal themes and messages that seep through have inspired many other works and allowed room for several adaptations. In his influential critical essay on Hamlet, T.S. Eliot suggests that one could “examine any of Shakespeare’s more successful tragedies…” and always “… find this exact equivalence” (1919). His term ‘objective correlative’ encompasses the phenomena of emotional reaction being created in the audience by the writer or poet or playwrights combination of images, objects or description which evoke the appropriate emotions. This balance of emotions inspired by a narrative determines the success of the objective correlative. Directors in film use......

Words: 1863 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

Year 11 Reading of King Lear

...The Tragedy of King Lear represents how the upheaval of the Elizabethan Chain of Being, through the hubris of the characters, Lear and Gloucester, leads to the disruption of divine order allowing evil to flourish throughout the kingdom, corrupting it, causing chaos until the characters accept their fate and order is restored. Those who violate the order, such as Edmund, Gonerill, Regan, Cornwell and Oswald, are punished and those who conform to the order, Lear, Gloucester, Kent, Edgar and Albany, suffer but are ultimately rewarded.   At the beginning of the text, this view is not obvious, as the social hierarchy of their society indulges the characters. Once this social order is disrupted, chaos and evil flourishes. King Lear “divided in three our kingdom... conferring them on younger strengths” splitting the kingdom amongst his daughters and renouncing the crown is seen as the first major disruption in divine order. As it was believed that the King was the sole ruler, just below the God in the social hierarchy. Gloucester’s act of having an affair while married resulting in a bastard son, Edmond, is also seen as a disruption and a sin. The disruptions to the order make way for the evil to cause mayhem and the good to succumb to their faults.   The main characters, King Lear and Gloucester have minor flaws but suffer immensely on stage. This suffering results in reconciliation with God. Their character development symbolises that a person has to accept whatever God has in...

Words: 1176 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

King Lear Nothing

...Hermesmann 1 Anna Hermesmann Nothing From Nothing: Concepts of Justice in King Lear Ex nihilio nihilfit—“nothing comes from nothing.” In the pre-Christian world of Shakespeare‟s King Lear, this doctrine rules as the actions of the characters prove futile and tragedy results. Lear fails to maintain order in his kingdom and his family; Gloucester loses his sight; and Cordelia, the only one who really loves her father, dies. Critics such as Samuel Johnson have argued that because of Cordelia‟s death, Shakespeare‟s ending is flawed, that he fails to follow the “natural ideas of justice” by allowing “Cordelia to perish in a just cause.” In 1689, approximately eighty years after Shakespeare completed the first text of King Lear, Nahum Tate published an alternate ending to the play in which Cordelia lives and eventually goes on to rule in her father‟s place. While this “happy” ending was performed as if it were Shakespeare‟s original for decades afterwards, it actually runs contrary to the original version of King Lear by applying Judeo-Christian human concepts of justice to a world that is not governed by a just God. In the nihilistic world Shakespeare creates, there is no just force to establish an objective morality, and therefore, the rules of right and wrong, and the consequences of each, are obsolete. Thus, because King Lear is set in a world in which the generally accepted rules of justice do not apply, Shakespeare‟s ending, including the death of the only truly virtuous......

Words: 3397 - Pages: 14

Premium Essay

King Lear

...The Tragedy of King Lear by William Shakespeare An Electronic Classics Series Publication 2 The Tragedy of King Lear is a publication of The Electronic Classics Series. This Portable Document file is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. Any person using this document file, for any purpose, and in any way does so at his or her own risk. Neither the Pennsylvania State University nor Jim Manis, Editor, nor anyone associated with the Pennsylvania State University assumes any responsibility for the material contained within the document or for the file as an electronic transmission, in any way. The Tragedy of King Lear by William Shakespeare, The Electronic Classics Series, Jim Manis, Editor, PSUHazleton, Hazleton, PA 18202 is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing publication project to bring classical works of literature, in English, to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them. Jim Manis is a faculty member of the English Department of The Pennsylvania State University. This page and any preceding page(s) are restricted by copyright. The text of the following pages are not copyrighted within the United States; however, the fonts used may be. Copyright © 1997 - 2013 The Pennsylvania State University is an equal opportunity University. 3 The Tragedy of KING LEAR by William Shakespeare: His true Chronicle Historie of the life and death of King Lear and his three daughters. With the unfortunate life of Edgar, sonne and......

Words: 27689 - Pages: 111

Free Essay

How Does Shakespeare Explore the Theme of Justice in King Lear?

...How does Shakespeare explore the theme of ‘Justice’ in King Lear? It is often assumed that the role of ‘Justice’ within a play is to serve as the source of goodness and anti-thesis of suffering, however in ‘King Lear’ Shakespeare utilises the theme of Justice to portray powerful messages, providing not just a contrast to the deterioration within the play but an explanation for the anguish witnessed. The notion of ‘Poetic Justice’ or deserved retribution is arguably denied by Shakespeare in ‘King Lear’, revealing the dangers of ‘unnatural evils’ and their far reaching consequences through its absence. The uncomfortable dramatic irony throughout Gloucester’s journey to his attempted suicide as he calls out for his ‘dear son Edgar,’ unaware that he stands before him, leaves the audience desiring union and peace for the victim of a horribly vivid crime. Despite this, resolution is never achieved, the eventual union causes only further death and is reported alongside Edgars regret, ‘’Never - O fault - revealed myself’, and bitter comments about Gloucester's ‘flawed heart’. As a result Shakespeare builds pity for the character of Gloucester to an unbearable level, denies the audience an opportunity for ‘catharsis’ and hence Gloucester's fate feels poetically unjust. In a society that saw suicide as a deadly sin, synonymous with questioning God’s wisdom and an ingratitude for the sacrifice of Christ, the real significance of Gloucester’s hopeless situation lies in it serving......

Words: 1908 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

King Lear

...King Lear Themes Table Themes Act 1 Act 2 Act 3 Act 4 Act 5 Critics Overview Shakespeare's dark tragedy, King Lear begins with the fictional King of England, King Lear, handing over his kingdom to daughters Regan and Goneril whom he believes truly love him. King Lear intends to stay with each daughter consecutively, accompanied by one hundred loyal knights.! Angry that Cordelia his youngest daughter does not appear to love him as do Goneril and Regan, Lear banishes his youngest daughter Cordelia, and Kent, the servant who attempts to defend her. Cordelia leaves and is taken by the King of France as his Queen...! Edmund, the loved but illegitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester plots to have his elder brother Edgar's reputation ruined. Edmund tricks his father Gloucester into believing that Edgar wanted to kill him...! The disrespectful Goneril conspires to have her guest and father, King Lear, driven out of her house.! Kent, who has now disguised his identity to serve King Lear, earns King Lear's respect by defending his name. Goneril offends King Lear and dismisses fifty of his knights. Lear starts to realize Cordelia was not so disrespecting. Lear decides to leave for Regan where he is sure to be treated properly...! Lear instructs Kent to deliver several letters to Gloucester. The Fool teaches Lear several riddles. We learn of possible conflict between evil sisters Regan and Goneril. Edmund......

Words: 5549 - Pages: 23

Premium Essay

King Lear Theams

...universal ideas explored in a literary work. Justice King Lear is a brutal play, filled with human cruelty and awful, seemingly meaningless disasters. The play’s succession of terrible events raises an obvious question for the characters—namely, whether there is any possibility of justice in the world, or whether the world is fundamentally indifferent or even hostile to humankind. Various characters offer their opinions: “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; / They kill us for their sport,” Gloucester muses, realizing it foolish for humankind to assume that the natural world works in parallel with socially or morally convenient notions of justice (4.1.37–38). Edgar, on the other hand, insists that “the gods are just,” believing that individuals get what they deserve (5.3.169). But, in the end, we are left with only a terrifying uncertainty—although the wicked die, the good die along with them, culminating in the awful image of Lear cradling Cordelia’s body in his arms. There is goodness in the world of the play, but there is also madness and death, and it is difficult to tell which triumphs in the end. Authority versus Chaos King Lear is about political authority as much as it is about family dynamics. Lear is not only a father but also a king, and when he gives away his authority to the unworthy and evil Goneril and Regan, he delivers not only himself and his family but all of Britain into chaos and cruelty. As the two wicked sisters indulge their appetite......

Words: 1095 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

King Lear Plot

...Guide Sue Tweg King Lear William Shakespeare contents Character map Overview About the author Synopsis Character summaries iv 1 1 2 4 Background & context Genre, structure & language Scene-by-scene analysis Characters & relationships Themes, ideas & values Different interpretations Questions & answers Sample answer References & reading 6 10 14 24 39 55 59 64 66 iv I ns i g h t T e x t G u i d e ChARACTeR mAp Edgar Legitimate son of Gloucester, disguises himself as ‘Poor Tom’. Leads Gloucester to Dover, fights and kills Edmond, becomes king. Wise fools Companions in storm Kent Truth-teller. Disguises himself as ‘Caius’. Loyal, noble servant to Lear. Offends via discourtesy to Lear Match wits Defends, speaks boldly Defends and helps Teaches patience and saves father’s life Fool Truth-teller; endures the storm. Is possibly hanged. Teaches Lear compassion Cordelia Truth-teller. Youngest daughter, loves Lear and heals him. Loses battle and is hanged in prison. Loves Loves Offers kingdom to Edgar – accepted Gloucester Believes Edmond’s lies about Edgar. Saved from suicide by Edgar after Edmond has cause his blinding by betraying him to Cornwall. Needs Foolish old fathers meet in storm Blinds King Lear Divides his kingdom, rejects Cordelia, rejected by Gonerill and Regan. Goes mad, healed after storm by Cordelia. Dies after Cordelia is hanged. Fails to show Lear how to value Cordelia King of France Sees......

Words: 3100 - Pages: 13

Premium Essay

King Lear

...KING LEAR KING LEAR William Shakespeare 1606 KING LEAR Dramatis Personae Lear, King of Britain. King of France. Duke of Burgundy. Duke of Cornwall. Duke of Albany. Earl of Kent. Earl of Gloucester. Edgar, son of Gloucester. Edmund, bastard son to Gloucester. Curan, a courtier. Old Man, tenant to Gloucester. Doctor. Lear's Fool. Oswald, steward to Goneril. A Captain under Edmund's command. Gentlemen. A Herald. Servants to Cornwall. Goneril, daughter to Lear. Regan, daughter to Lear. Cordelia, daughter to Lear. Knights attending on Lear, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers, Attendants. Scene: - Britain. KING LEAR ACT I. KING LEAR SCENE I. [King Lear's Palace.] Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund. [Kent and Glouceste converse. Edmund stands back.] Kent. I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall. Glou. It did always seem so to us; but now, in the division of the kingdom, it appears not which of the Dukes he values most, for equalities are so weigh'd that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety. Kent. Is not this your son, my lord? Glou. His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often blush'd to acknowledge him that now I am braz'd to't. Kent. I cannot conceive you. Glou. Sir, this young fellow's mother could; whereupon she grew round-womb'd, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault? Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so......

Words: 27785 - Pages: 112

Premium Essay

Justice in King Lear

...excessive cruelty and portrayal of human suffering in the play make the world seem terribly unjust. Throughout the play, King Lear, characters constantly appeal to the gods for aid but are rarely answered. Thus, justice would provide a fair and moral society, create a sense of moral righteousness, and ensure that crimes and punishments are in equilibrium. Ultimately justice in King Lear is served the best when the punishment surpasses the crime because the knowledge and compassion that the character gain has an everlasting effect on their life and makes them a better person. Hence, justice would be the most important component of society that would help store order and support the world, whereas mercy is an opposite that counters the necessary righteousness. All of us want to live in a world of peace and tranquility where opportunities are equal to everyone. Justice would provide us fairness and morality on how people commune within a society. One of the most notable instances of unfairness in the play is shown through Lear's banishment of Cordelia. Lear asked his daughters to profess their love for him. But when it came to Cordelia to confess her love, she cannot bring herself to do it. "Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth” (1.1.93-94). In reaction to Cordelia's refusal to act he disowns Cordelia, denies her of any inheritance. “Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you/ from seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en/ too little care of this!”......

Words: 911 - Pages: 4