In the sub plot we have a similar situation occurring. Edmund shows Gloucester a phony letter in which Edgar tries to enlist Edmund into a murder plot against his father. Edmund then plans for Gloucester to overhear an exchange between the two brothers. Once Gloucester is nearby, he makes it seem that Edgar is conspiring to kill his father, by causing Edgar to leave suddenly and then wounding himself making it look as if Edgar had inflicted the wounds on him. Gloucester feels deceived and vows to execute his son Edgar.
As we jump back to the main plot we have the two sisters Goneril and Regan who have decided to join forces and overthrow their father. Lear cannot understand why daughters who were thought to have loved him so much, can not treat him with any respect or dignity. At this point the main plot and the sub plot begin to intertwine.
Edgar, who is disguised as Mad Tom, meets up with Lear and Kent while they are wandering in the storm.
It is there that Gloucestor reveals to Lear that Gonerial and Regan plan to kill their father. The main plot and the sub plot share many of the same traits. Both have disloyal children. Gonerial and Regan turn against Lear after allowing Lear to believe that they care for him more than anything else. In the sub plot Edmund turns against Gloucester by allowing him to believe Edgar has plotted to kill his father.
In both cases Lear and Gloucester have turned against their loyal children. If Lear really loved Cordelia he would understand why she did not follow her sisters. A parent should never question the love that child feels for their parent.
This is a major flaw of Lear that leads to the tragic death of Cordelia Lyons As for the sub plot the loyal child Edgar is caste out by his father, Gloucestor, who believes that Edgar is threatening his life. If Gloucestor really loved Edgar and had approached him about his motives Edgar would not have fled. When Edgar left the estate he gave Edmund the upper hand. Now Edmund knew that his father trusted him and this allowed him to take control over Gloucestor and his estate.
In both of these cases the loyal children felt no resentment towards their father. Cordelia and Edgar both realize that their siblings are to blame. Both Lear and Gloucestor have chosen sides and turned their backs against the children who love them the most. While Goneril and Regan fight over the interest of Edmund, Cordelia returns to help her father from the fate of her evil sisters. Jealous Goneril poisons Regan and then commits suicide. Next Edmund sends his henchman to kill Cordelia.
Lear, now realizing that it was Cordelia all along who truly loved him, dies of a broken heart. Edgar reveals himself and battles Edmund. Edmund is wounded and shortly thereafter dies. Our fear and pity for Lear are both magnified and mitigated. These terrifying thoughts are held by him when he is mad, and their validity is further denied by all those in the play who are intelligent, loving, and somewhat disengaged—their complete validity is called into question by even the existence of people such as Kent, Edgar, and Albany.
In addition, the action is arranged from beginning to end that is, from the beginning of Act III to Act IV,scene 6 in such ways that fear does not become horror, or pity some kind of excruciating anguish. In the first scene in Act III, before we see Lear on the heath we are given subdued assurance that friends are organizing to rescue him and the kingdom. This scene can be criticized for its execution, because it is a scene merely of talk between Kent and a Gentleman, whose talk is obviously directed to us as much as to themselves, but the intention to save us from horror is right.
And, finally, although scene 6 is constructed to magnify our fear and pity by confronting us with both Gloucester and Lear and their combined anguish, it is also designed to alleviate our suffering and serves as a superlative example of the paradoxical task of the tragic artist. So far our view of King Lear has been both panoramic and confined. In making these problems ours, we become more particular and yet, in certain ways, closer to the general qualities of great writing which, in order to have a name, must also have a local habitation.
Many a tragic drama has itself met a tragic ending for lack of drama, and the odds increase that this will be the case when the tragedy in some central way involves internal changes, changes in thoughts and states of mind.
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.
Then the similarity becomes both more inclusive and deeper as tragic flaws and tragic courses of action become parallel—Lear and Gloucester, in pride of heart, are also trotting over four-inched bridges and coursing their own shadows for traitors.
Given the confines of this paper, the speech to be considered must be short, for the focus finally is upon the smallest unit of drama, a speech, and the smallest unit of speech, a single word.
Moreover, given our other commitments, the speech should also be in essence dramatic and tragic. Let us take, then, the speech in which Lear first recognizes his identity with unprotected nakedness scarred with self-inflicted wounds:. This is not one of those speeches, somewhat detachable as sententious utterances or lyric poems from which are collected The Beauties of Shakespeare ; yet upon the heath it is one of the great moments.
It is tragic drama contracted to its essences—fear and pity. The question is asked in consternation and commiseration; and it arouses in us, who are more aware of implications than Lear, fear and pity in some ways more enormous than his. These two qualities of the speech—its shortness and its enormousness—at the outset may be considered as somewhat separate and paradoxical qualities.
Well, as a simple beginning, it is easy to understand, and the moment demands understanding. Then, too, just as language, it is unexpected. This is a great deal of dramatic dialogue for forty lines, and perhaps might be contrasted to certain modern schools of writers who have found the essence of drama and reality to be iteration and reiteration of monosyllables.
Ultimately, the kind of verbal contraction here being considered is right because the immediate moment of tragic impact is a contraction—abdominal, in the throat, in the mind impaled upon a point. The vast tragic speeches of Shakespeare are anticipations of impending tragedy or assimilations of the event after its impact, like scar tissue after the wound.
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This essay concentrates on Act , Scene 4 of Shakespeare's King Lear, a tragic and powerful scene in which we witness Lear's mind tragically giving way to the menace of madness, which has relentlessly pursued him throughout the play.
Buy custom King Lear essay King Lear fits Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero as he incorporates the key elements that Aristotle considers being encompassed in a hero of a tragedy. King Lear indicates that he has transformed from ignorance to knowledge, which is similar to Aristotle’s indication. Name Instructor Course Date English Literature Essay 1: King Lear King Lear does a great mistake towards the end of kingship that leads to his gradual development of madness after he is swayed by flattering words by two of his daughters and divides his throne into two for them.
Tags: english essays, King Lear essay topics, King Lear essays, Business Reports Persuasive Speech Informative Speech Buy Speech Buy Dissertation Essay Topics Buy Project Research Proposal. Speech Writing Coursework Writing Homework Writing Pay Essays University Papers Education Papers Graduate Papers. Essay King Lear Essay The definition of tragedy in the Oxford dictionary is, "drama of elevated theme and diction and with unhappy ending; sad event, serious accident, calamity." However, the application of this terminology in .