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Theme Of The Dog In Shakespeare's King Lear

Decent Essays
William Shakespeare comes to age in a culture that has essentially “fallen in love” with the English Bible. The most profound expressions of imagery and metaphor that we believe to have been successful through Shakespeare's plays, actually allude first to religious text. The exceptionally biblical 16th century England became fascinated with these religious depictions of animals in both art and literature, and are therefore a recurring theme in the majority of Shakespeare's work. But what is perhaps the most used image—and one of great significance in Shakespeare's seventh tragedy King Lear—is that of the dog.
The play mentions the word “dog” and words such as “cur”, “hound”, or “brach”( that hold similar connotation) around twenty-five times; which is a significant number considering the fact that the word “king” is mentioned only sixty times in a play centered around the internal and external conflict of a king. That being said, dogs were certainly not held at the same honorable status as kings, and to compare a human to a dog was generally to imply that they were of very low status. Exodus 22:31 states, “Do not eat the meat of an animal torn by wild beasts; throw it to the dogs”. Dogs are often beaten, they can be cowardly; they bark and bite; they fight; they steal. And when they try to make friends, they are just fawning. In Act III Scene VII of King Lear, the King’s second daughter Regan challenges the outburst of an incompetent servant, and demands “How now, you dog?”
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