William Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

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William Shakespeare's King Lear

The locations in Shakespeare’s King Lear fall into three categories: inside a court, out in nature, and in-between nature and civilization. Lear himself also wavers between three states: sanity, senility, and the fine line between the two. These states of consciousness relate directly to the scenes’ locations. However, Lear’s insanity is not the fault of his location in the world; for the most part, he has control over his situation. The series of events in correspondence with the location show that man must acknowledge the nature he originated from and live in the civilized world, but not abandon nature all together because too much control or chaos leads to despair.

King Lear begins in
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All is done for the sake of pride, or the Greek tragic flaw (hamartia), hubris. Those who harm others because of hubris, including Lear, Regan, Goneril, and Edmund, meet a tragic end.

The complete opposite of this indoor world of prideful plotting and civilized overthrows is the chaotic wilderness on the heath, described in the Norton text’s notes as “bare, open country” (2513). Here madmen and fools stumble about in a wild tempest, without adequate shelter and eventually, in Lear and Poor Tom’s case, without clothes. Lear is literally stripped of all his kingly goods. He has no pride because he is debased by his banishment and wanderings in a storm and no power because he gives it up. He even loses his sense, and starts to go mad from old age and the trauma of his expulsion. He must rely on the Fool and madman to lead him around, with the help of Kent in disguise and eventually Gloucester. When he sees the naked Tom, he proclaims, “Is man no more/than this? Consider him well…thou art the thing itself;/unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked/animal such as thou art” (3.4.95-100). He says that a man without the bonds of civilization is nothing but an animal and rips off his own clothes, indicating that he too
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