Essay about Powerful Animal Imagery in King Lear

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In King Lear. Shakespeare uses imagery of great imaginative depth and resonance to convey his major themes and to heighten the readers experience of the play. There are some predominant image patterns. In my opinion, it is the imagery of animals and savage monsters that leave the most lasting impression. The imagination is filled with pictures of wild and menacing creatures, ravenous in their appetites, cruel in their instincts. The underlying emphasis in such imagery is on the vileness of which humanity is capable. It is often used in connection with Goneril and Regan. Throughout the play, the sisters are compared unfavourably to animals and monsters. Lear often uses animal and monster metaphors when describing his daughters'…show more content…
The main one is that the worst representatives of humanity threaten to destroy humane values since they live by the law of the jungle. I also found a close association between the animal images and the pervasive suggestion of bodily pain, horror and suffering in the play. As well as savage wolves and other predators, the imagery feature stinging adders, gnawing rats, whipped, whining, mad and biting dogs. King Lear is set in a brutal and savage prehistoric world, a Britain where violence, torture and physical suffering are all so commonplace as to be unremarkable. All through the play we are conscious of strife, buffeting, strain and bodily suffering to the point of agony. the images involving the human body are particularly grim. We have the repeated image of the body in anguished movement, tugged, wrenched, beaten, tortured, and finally broken on a rack. even death is seen by Kent as a welcome release from torture, which is almost the permanent condition of those who live in the Lear world. As Lear is dying, Kent makes the appeal: "O let him pass! He hates him/That would upon the rack of this tough world/ Stretch him out longer". This image of the world as a torture chamber darkens the closing moments of the play. Lear, while imagining himself in some sort of afterlife, still feels pain: "I am bound/ Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears/ Do scald like molten lead". Elsewhere, he sees himself wrenched and tortured by an engine and him heart is about to break

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