Essay on King Lear/Inferno

1246 Words Feb 3rd, 2013 5 Pages
Paper Assignment #2 (Inferno / King Lear)
Both Shakespeare’s King Lear and Dante’s Inferno explore the reasons for and results of human suffering. Both works postulate that human suffering comes as a result of choices that are made. That statement is not only applicable to the characters in each of the works, but also to the readers. The Inferno and King Lear speak universal truths about the human condition: that suffering is inevitable and unavoidable. While both King Lear and the Inferno concentrate on the admonitions and lamentations of human suffering, there is one key difference between the works: the Inferno has an aspect of hope that is not present in King Lear.
The unavoidable aspect of human suffering is depicted brilliantly
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Both Lear and Capaneus show excessive pride and stubbornness throughout their respective works, and fail to see their own faults. They were forewarned about their punishments, yet they continued down the path that would bring them the most suffering. Even though suffering is an inevitable part of living and there is no path in life that does not include some sort of suffering, these two men chose the ones that would bring them the most pain.
The Inferno is a tale of cautionary advice. In each circle, Dante the pilgrim speaks to one of the shades that reside there and the readers learn how and why the damned have become the damned. As Dante learns from the mistakes of the damned, so do the readers. And as Dante feels the impacts of human suffering, so do the readers. Virgil constantly encourages Dante the pilgrim to learn why the shades are in Hell and what were their transgressions while on Earth. This work’s purpose is to educate the reader. The work’s assertions on the nature of human suffering are mostly admonition, with each shade teaching Dante the pilgrim and by extension the reader not to make the same mistakes. Dante views his journey through hell as a learning experience and that is why he made it out alive.
King Lear shows an extreme of human suffering. While there is some foreshadowing to the tragic end of the play and…