Tragic Figures in King Lear by William Shakespeare Essay

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Tragic Figures - Good/Evil in King Lear King Lear, by William Shakespeare, is a tragic tale of filial conflict, personal transformation, and loss. The story revolves around the King who foolishly alienates his only truly devoted daughter and realizes too late the true nature of his other two daughters. A major subplot involves the illegitimate son of Gloucester, Edmund, who plans to discredit his brother Edgar and betray their father. With these and other major characters in the play, Shakespeare clearly asserts that human nature is either entirely good, or entirely evil. Some characters experience a transformative phase, where, by some trial or ordeal, their nature is profoundly changed. We shall examine Shakespeare's…show more content…
An impressive speech similar to her sisters' would have prevented much tragedy, but Shakespeare has tailored Cordelia's character in such a way that she could never consider such an act. Later in the play, Cordelia, now banished for her honesty, still loves her father and displays great compassion and grief for him in his suffering: O my dear father, restoration hang Thy medicine on my lips, and let this kiss Repair those violent harms that my two sisters Have in reverence made (IV, vii, 26-29). Cordelia could be expected to display bitterness or even satisfaction at her father's plight, which was his own doing. However, she still loves him, and does not fault him for the injustice he did her. Clearly, Shakespeare has crafted Cordelia as a character whose nature is entirely good, unblemished by any trace of evil throughout the entire play. As an example of one of the wholly evil characters in the play, we shall turn to the subplot of Edmund's betrayal of his father and brother. Edmund has devised a scheme to discredit his brother, Edgar, in the eyes of their father, Gloucester. Edmund is fully aware of the vileness of his own nature, and revels in it: This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeits of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars; as if we were villains on necessity;
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