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❶As in Act One, although Cordelia said "nothing", she really means everything she loves to his father.

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King Lear Sample Essay: Honour, Loyalty, Brutality and Viciousness
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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.

It is the task of the artist to give the enormous its proper dimensions, even if, as in this instance, the illusion has to be preserved that only some little thing was said. Our task, therefore, is to look again at these few, short, ordinary words to see how they add up to what our feelings tell us is something very big. Here, as elsewhere, there can be but the suggestion of a complete analysis; and, in respect to words, the accomplished writer lifts this one and this one and this one and listens to both sound and significance.

Rhythmically and metrically, Lear has asked a tremendous question. A seven-foot mounting question is a big question. Grammatical mode of utterance brings us closer to significance. Some dimension, some significance, goes out of the speech if it is not a question but a declaration: Yet there is one big word within this speech—the one right word, the one word that is not a touching-up of another word which could itself have remained with out the notice of aftertimes.

There are moments, moreover, which have a size that is unmentionable, moments which cannot, at least at the instant, be fully faced or exactly spoken of by those who must endure them. There is always a test that should be made of such matters—can we, after searching, find something at least as good? The test does not always lead to humiliation, and always it should lead to some improvement of ourselves, but the most rigorous test of Shakespeare is Shakespeare himself.

Nay, not so much, not two. According to Perrett, certain versions of the story contain suggestions of madness op, cit. The Folio is far more accurate in editorial detail than the Quarto but is considerably shorter, most scholars surmising that it represcnts a version of the play that had been cut for acting purposes. Certainly, it is not difficult to understand the omission of the soliloquy, but the deletion of the trial upon the edge of hell removes from the scene at tremendous amount of its drama and tragedy.

And art thou come to this? Although in several particulars the Folio has contracted the first half of the question, an analysis of either version of the speech would be substantially the same. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.

Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the University of Chicago Press. For information on purchasing the book—from bookstores or here online—please go to the webpage for The Norman Maclean Reader.

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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.

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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.

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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 .