The Existential Progression of King Lear Essay

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The Existential Progression of King Lear

The human condition is the scrutiny of art, Prince Hamlet notes the purpose of art is to hold the mirror against nature. King Lear is a masterful inquiry into the human condition. King Lear is confronted with existence in its barest sense and is forced to adapt to that existence. His adaptation to the absurd provides an invaluable insight for all into the universal problem of existence. Lear is forced into an existential progression that will be traced with the phenomenon of consciousness; the result of this progression is seen ironically in that Lear finds satisfaction in despair.

The point of departure of Lear into the unknown of existence is seen when he plunges himself into the
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Spit, fire. Spout, rain!
No rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters
I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness.
I never gave you my kingdom, called you children,
You owe me no subscription. Then let fall
Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That will with two pernicious daughters join
Your high-engendered battles ‘gainst a head
So old and white as this. O, ho! ‘tis foul. (III, ii,14-24)

Lear’s phenomenological progression begins with his fury at nature. Lear’s pre-reflective interior consciousness perceives the storm and its relentless ferocity. The storm rages at Lear regardless of who he is and what has happened to him. “Rumble thy bellyful. Spit, fire. Spout, rain!” (III, ii,14).This is Lear’s pre-reflective interior consciousness perceiving nature; in Lear’s terms, there is consciousness of the storm. What makes this significant, however, is not that there is consciousness of the storm, but that it serves as a transcendent object in that ‘consciousness of the storm’ serves as the base for ‘consciousness of Lear.’ Lear reflects on his pre-reflective consciousness as an object in his ego, the ideal state of psychic emotions. “I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness./ I never gave you my kingdom”(III, ii, 16-17) Lear, in reflecting on his interior consciousness contemplates the universe; he does not blame it for his daughter’s

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