Shakespeare’s King Lear is a world in which humans are personalized and find themselves with some contention with their role, rank, and “Place” in life. IE: “The King;” is father god on Earth, “Daughter” is bastard, loyal servant to the king and traitor. Shakespeare dramatized these roles thinking he was in control, when in truth he wasn’t. However, like Lear, Shakespeare thought he was still in absolute control of his characters. The character of Cordelia, underestimates the power she has absorbed from her father’s violent emotions, which she herself provoked.
The story of “King Lear” is not just about raw emotion which leads to the tragedy of “King Lear;” instead it is Cordelia’s refusal to conform to the “role” as the king’s daughter. Cordelia, the youngest and fairest daughter refuses to speak as the king’s daughter and insists upon speaking as only Cordelia. Cordelia is a personality thatwants to be known as an individual and not someone who is connected or possessed by a sovereign. Cordelia’s rebellion is her insistence of moral intelligence that is not determined by the social role she was born into. Unlike, the other characters in the play, Cordelia is not overwhelmed with thoughts of gaining power or lustful alliances. She is for truth and never lies declaring herself as a “self.”
The declaration of “self” in King Lear is overwhelmed by the king’s authority. It is in the tight grip of the most primitive emotion where we see a human being dies inside his archetype in the play. At the time of King Lear’s redemption from his ignoble self. King Lear’s humanity has been lost to the role that accommodates the world of man, politics and history. Shakespeare’s cynicism is prominent in King Lear and much more darker as you may think. In Lear, at least the King returns with the knowledge that an individual cannot work sanely in a place with poor rouges and court
Shakespeare’s writing that the necessary withdrawal of the intelligent and enlightened man from dealing politics; from a world that only exists in history; must seem a measure of “selflessness” to him that could be kept in the mind. Yet, Shakespeare says that you should give this power to someone who demands it, and not to those who may possess it! Shakespeare’s pessimism is due to the assumption of a passive individual facing history as if the world, politics, history or time has contaminated the virtuous. This assumption of Lear is probably psychologically valid for some people but presents a complex contradictory statement.
After, Lear detaches himself from his “role” as king when he runs into nature itself, which satisfies the audience’s emotional demands for the character to shed his ego by rejecting the superficial roles of his ego. The king’s alliance with Cordelia is contrary. It is male and female, civilization, as well as “great creating nature;” nature in its most evil sense.
Questions and Answers
1.Why is the “awakening” of King Lear the most moving scene in literature according to Joyce Carol Oates? The moment of King Lear’s “awakening” is the most moving scene in literature because after so much senseless horror, it marks the reconciliation of the aggressive King Lear and his relationship with his estranged all forgiving daughter, Cordelia as well as the soul itself.
2.How does the “awakening” of the king change Cordelia’s already good soul? It changes Cordelia’s soul by symbolizing the moment of grace that forces the tragedy to a halt allowing a magical change of eternal happiness and the tragedy of time, which is so powerful in the writings of Shakespeare and because it is rare.
3. Why is it important for King Lear to not have a Queen? It is dramatically important for King Lear to not have a Queen so we can concentrate on the masculine predicament of being a king and father in the play. To show the dangers in letting go of both of the authorities, exposing the dead, and absent level of consciousness.
Writing this paper I feel I understand the play “King Lear” better. I understand the tragedy and the awakening of The King and his daughters, the all-forgiving Cordelia, and heartless and scheming Reagan, and Goneril. Lear’s arrogance and excessive pride in the play utilizes his hunger for power and paranoia to rule his kingdom and his daughters.
The tragic death of Cordeila in the end is the terrible lesson Lear has to learn because of this hubris.
“Is this the promised End?” The Tragedy of King Lear- By Joyce Carol Oates; Celestial Timepiece: A Joyce Carol Oates Home Page. Originally published in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, fall 1974- www.usfca.edu/~southerr/lear.html
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