Death's Immanence In Life in Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

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In the play King Lear by William Shakespeare, the idea of self-awareness is portrayed through death. More specifically, Lear illustrates self-awareness by refusing the inevitability of old age. With death comes self- awareness. Lear has a clear perception of reality as a king and loving father; however it's evident that Lear's daughters give him a completely different identity than the one he gives himself. It suggests his old age and faults. During Lear's first identity crisis, he rhetorically asks “Does any here know me? Why, this is not Lear (I. iv. 10)” as if he doesn't quite know how to define himself other than a “king”. A godly manifestation much? What Lear asks is to be labeled with power, but his daughters concur the frailty of…show more content…
In addition, he strips himself to expose the true nature of man which he realizes as insignificant. It's as if he is intentionally trying to alienate himself. As if he views all mankind to be a foreign concept due to the irrational state of life. He curses, “You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!(III. ii. 32)” to defy the elements. We can't help but see Lear act against nature as if he is the storm itself. Moreover, he tries to justify his temper by mentioning that nothing can hurt him more than his daughters. Not even the elements can corrupt this poor, old man. We see the storm bring about awareness when Lear exclaims,“You sulfurous and thought-executing fires, Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts, Singe my white head!(III. ii. 33)” as if he begins to finally discover his true hair color which directly correlates with his age. I see that Lear is becoming aware of his age, but not willing to accept the anemic state of his body and mind. He intentionally makes note of his hair color, but the realization leaves him in a state of mental insanity soon to discover his impending death. The inevitability of death begins to settle into Lear, not enabling him to accept it, but to drive him towards the brink of insanity. We begin to see Lear view life as an existential concept that constricts his mental state. The painful surprise of mortality leads him to go insane and his anger turns into
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