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The Nature of King Lear - Case Study Example

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This work "The Nature of King Lear" describes the concept of Shakespeare's tragedy. The author focuses on the meanings of nature, the message of the tragedy. From this work, it is clear that there is a natural order to the universe that extends down through all levels of creation and into the confines of the human soul…
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The Nature of King Lear
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Download file to see previous pages Throughout the play, Shakespeare’s characters continue to emphasize the concept of nature as a means of trying to understand the forces at work around them. This concept is generally thought of in terms of the physical forces of the outer world but has also been used to refer to familial relationships, the metaphysical harmony of the universe and the inner composition of man. Within this single play, Shakespeare explores many of these various meanings of nature. His message seems to be that nature, left unchecked, will most often lead to disaster. Shakespeare conveys this message within King Lear through his portrayal of physical nature, the nature of man, and the nature of human relationships.
Perhaps the most visible element of nature apparent in the play is the element of physical nature. Lear invokes it in the opening scene as he gifts his daughters with their estates by pointing out the natural splendors that each territory has to offer and then calls upon nature in his curse of Cordelia’s lack of suitable response to his request: “by the sacred radiance of the sun, / The mysteries of Hecate and the night, / By all the operations of the orbs” as he disowns her. It is only after this pronouncement that Gloucester makes it clear that the kingdom has recently witnessed a number of strange eclipses of the sun and moon, suggesting that the upsetting situations then occurring in the human realm are just reflections of the upsets occurring in the heavens or vice versa. “Though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects” (I, ii, 102-103). Although Edmund seems to feel placing such blame for men’s actions on the physical natural environment is foolish, Shakespeare allows nature to continue reflecting the emotions and upsets of the human realm. As the relationships break down between families and within the individual characters involved, each of them going a bit insane as the play continues, the physical world of nature becomes more and more disordered as well. The play continues forward through the darkness of the night before it finally leads to Lear’s banishment from both his daughter’s homes, leaving him to wander through the moors unsheltered during a fierce natural storm. This storm first breaks when Lear is confronted by both Goneril and Regan on the issue of his retinue. As they whittle him down from 100 to 50 knights and then down to 25 and finally into questioning whether he should have even one, the storm breaks on the lines of Lear’s refusal to weep with outrage at the daughters’ ungratefulness. In this, Shakespeare seems to suggest that since the king cannot weep for himself, the skies will do it for him. This storm continues to rage through the night, which takes place through the remainder of this scene as well as the following scenes until Lear begins to regain his own sanity. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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