The Power of Language in Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

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The Power of Language in King Lear

It is often difficult to gain entry into a work of such complete and dazzling genius as King Lear--reading Shakespeare can sometimes feel like trying to get a good long look at the sun on a cloudless day. And yet there are moments when one comes across passages that, by the sheer force of their lyrical, poetic beauty, leap off the page and resonate so strongly within one's mind that they become a kind of distillation of the entire play. One can read this play again and again, and still be struck anew by Shakespeare's utter mastery over language; surely there is no other writer who had so full a sense of, and who used to such merciless ends, the power of words. In a genre that denies the
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Having recognized this, the reader is free to enter into the heart of this transcendent tragedy.

We are introduced to Gloucester and his parallel plot line before we are introduced to Lear. In Act One, Scene One, we find Gloucester professing the equal love he bears his two sons, the one legitimate, the other "got Œtween unlawful sheets". The moral code that informs King Lear dictates that illegitimacy, the Œnatural' son who is anything but, bodes nothing but detriment to the harmony of intrinsic order; within the terms of the play, Gloucester's Œequal love' is a fatal flaw of judgment. The reader, paying close attention to language, is able to perceive Gloucester's unwitting mistake from Edmund's very first appearance; in a world where the individual vocabulary of each character is a loaded expression of their position on the axis of good and evil, the reader cannot help but notice that Edmunds's "... I shall study deserving..."(I.i.30) is a foreboding of the duplicity and greed that will stain him throughout the play.

Lear's introduction into the play is similar to Gloucester's