The Greatest And Most Tragic Of Shakespeare 's King Lear

1043 Words Nov 9th, 2015 5 Pages
King Lear, written by William Shakespeare, has been known as the greatest, and most tragic, of Shakespeare’s plays. Social status plays a major role in the development of the play and even in Elizabethan/Jacobean England. King Lear could have been described as vain and foolish, a pathetic old man, incapable of controlling emotions, and rash in judgement. However, since he was established as King, people looked up to him regardless of his mental state. This is why as he grew older, he became insistent on maintaining social status. Edmund was Earl of Gloucester’s illegitimate son and Edgar was Gloucester’s legitimate heir. Because of Edmunds birth right, he was lower in social status than Edgar and didn’t receive the same treatment. He spent the entire play trying to climb up the social ladder. Social status is a rampant conflict throughout King Lear. King Lear fought to maintain his social status because he was too prideful to be looked upon as a senile old man. He fought at every turn until the very end to maintain appearances and uphold his reputation as king. Retirement was looked down upon in Elizabethan/Jacobean England. It would only happen in extreme circumstances of sickness and old age. When it, rarely, did happen, it put stress onto the political tradition of deference. When retirement happened, a wedge would be lodged between status and power. Leaving a legitimate male heir to assume the position lessened the strain, but sometimes there is no such heir, as shown…

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