Suffering In Shakespeares Plays Essay

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Suffering In Shakespeare's Plays

How does suffering affect one's actions? Do different types of suffering affect one in different ways? This paper seeks to determine how William
Shakespeare's character's respond to various types of suffering. Suffering can be defined in two ways; physical suffering, in which the character is inflicted with physical pain and trauma, and emotional suffering, where the character suffers an emotional trauma or loss.

In The Tempest, the physically traumatized characters, are Trinculo and
Stephano. They are chased by dogs but their physical trauma has not induced any sign of remorse or guilt. Ferdinand, on the other hand, is overcome by emotional suffering at the "loss" of his son. In King Lear,
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"The mistress which I serve quickens what's dead and makes my labors pleasure." (Tempest, III, i, 6-7)

Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio, who are denounced as "men of sin"
(Tempest, III,, iii, 53) are driven by Ariel into a frenzy of madness. Alonso is deeply affected, he believes the "death" of his son to be punishment and he confesses his guilt and seeks to atone for it. He is purified through the trial and reconciled with Prospero at the play's end. Neither Antonio nor Sebastian, who are equally guilty, is affected in this way. They remain impenitent. Their incapacity for remorse is punished, Ariel suggests by a "ling' ring perdition, worse than any death." ( Tempest, III, iii, 77)

Stephano, the King's butler, and Trinculo, the jester, plot to overthrow
Prospero. Their trial and suffering take form in a physical way. They are submerged in a horse pond and then hunted by Prospero's dogs.

King Lear allows one to see how physical suffering can bring on emotional suffreing. This can be seen in the two main characters of each subplot.
Lear, King of Brittain, is described as "a very foolish old man, fourscore and upward." His fatal flaw of rashness causes his suffering. The Earl of Gloucester lacks Lear's capacity for wrath but shares his fatal flaw of rashness. Like Lear, he is made to suffer greatly by his children before he gains true insight.
Cordelia, Lear's
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