This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Justice In King Lear Essay

1547 words - 7 pages

King Lear:
Ideological Progression and Changing View of Justice
The study of justice in King Lear is the study of the pitiable infirmity of man; Bradley
makes the observation that “there never was vainer labour than that of critics who try to make out that the persons in King Lear meet with justice or their desserts” – at least not in any sense of a strict requital or such an adjustment of merit and prosperity as utopian morality would demand. Any account of justice as an idealized extension of a divine deity is excluded from the play; on the other hand, Justice is not portrayed as a blind or capricious power, inflicting motiveless despair upon the characters. Shakespeare explores ...view middle of the document...

Still, Lear’s fury is not entirely wanton, but is an extension of the pain he himself is suffering – an enigmatic foreshadowing of the decency in King Lear’s heart. King Lear declares that he will keep all of his powers as King except the title; and plans to live alternately with his two flattering daughters. However, Goneril – the elder – soon snubs her
father – instigating self-questioning by Lear, who asks, “Who is it that can tell me who I am?” (1.4.200), to which the singularly clever Fool replies, “Lear’s shadow” (1.4.221). When Regan sides with her sister Goneril, a nearly broken Lear questioningly wonders if he should ask Goneril’s forgiveness (2.4.148). Indeed “[Lear] learns self-pity before he learns pity” (Jorgensen). In developing compassion for himself, Lear begins to ponder his relationships with those around him, leading him to the humbled realization that he is not above justice: to endeavor to understand
the justice which has now dealt an ‘unjust’ hand to him. The Gods respond to Lear’s questioning with ‘Storm and Tempest’ – stage directions which clutter the central scenes of the play. In the heath (III.ii - IV.vi), Lear retains a degree of stature, piteously reprimanding the elements for their abuse; most notably, Lear rants, “Blow,
winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!...Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ th’ world, Crack nature’s moulds, all germains spill at once, That makes ingrateful man!” (3.2.1-24). Yet “[King Lear] intermittently confronts the tempest with mixed authority and unanswered pathos” (Jorgensen). In finding forces – his daughters and the storm – less caring than himself, Lear realizes him own compassion. In a major epiphany, Lear learns to care for the Fool: he very explicitly declares, “My wits begin to turn.—Come on, my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold?” (3.2.73-74). Eventually compassion for Edgar’s façade, the madman Poor Tom, leads Lear to descend into the lowest state of humility: madness. In this madness, Lear (although blinded by the Justice in King Lear 4
fury of the tempest) is finally able to ‘see better’. Within this heightening state of passionate pondering, King Lear goes as far as to make direct observations on his perception of Justice. Before a hovel in III.iv, Lear’s compassion for Kent – asking him to enter first – leads him to make a contemplative generalization of social justice:
Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
And show the heavens more just. (32-41)
Lear achieves a significant ideological realization in that his compassion has led him to categorically take pity on those...

Other Papers Like Justice in King Lear

Severe Mercy in King Lear Essay

3267 words - 14 pages Severe Mercy in King Lear        The best thing about King Lear is that the deeper you dig, the more meat you find. It seems straightforward enough, except that every now and then something leaps out of the dialogue that severs the veil of coherent reality to strike sharp blows at the eternal Within. Even with a minimum of thought, few, I think, when considering King Lear, could emerge unshaken. There are shining archetypes of pain and

Humanity's Fate in King Lear Essay

1924 words - 8 pages what could happen to humankind. He is responsible for his society. He is a representation of our own fate. The fate of humanity will be discussed in King Lear, by William Shakespeare. In this moving play, our tragic hero was King Lear. Our tragic hero must also have a tragic flaw. Lear's tragic flaw was his vanity. Lear is so full of himself that he doesn't realize the truth. First of all, Lear wants to divide his kingdom up into three parts

Fools and Foolishness in King Lear

1726 words - 7 pages and places. By far the theme that best allowed the furthering of this superb contrast between Victorian England and Lear's own defined world is Shakespeare's discussion of fools and their foolishness This discussion allows Shakespeare to not only more fully portray human nature, but also seems to illicit a sort of Socratic introspection into the nature of society's own ignorance as well. One type of fool that Shakespeare involves in King Lear

Blindness In King Lear And Oedipus

957 words - 4 pages Interprets blindness in king lear/oedipus very good, pleasure to readTragedy is defined in Websters New Collegiate Dictionary as: 1) a medieval narrative poem or tale typically describing the downfall of a great man, 2) a serious drama typically describing a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force (as destiny) and having a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion that excites pity or terror. The play of King Lear is one of William

Self-Perception In Shakespeare's King Lear

1088 words - 5 pages   Thou shall honour thy father and thy mother, is not only one of ten powerful commandments but is also the foundation for King Lear's perception of himself and his overwhelming situation in Shakespeare's masterpiece King Lear. After a recent life-altering decision, Lear's seemingly stable and comfortable world has been thrown into upheaval through the disobedience and lies told by not only his two daughters but also by his servants! Thus

Filial Ingratitude In Shakespeare's King Lear

681 words - 3 pages Filial Ingratitude in Shakespeare's King Lear        In Shakespeare's King Lear, the main plot, which is focused around the error of King Lear, is mirrored by the subplot, which is based on the Earl of Gloucester's mistake. The main plot parallels the subplot in order to reiterate one of the main themes of the play, filial ingratitude.  At first, both Gloucester & Lear are unaware that their disloyal offspring are taking advantage of

Belief In "King Lear" William Shakespear

1465 words - 6 pages Mistakes and undesirable consequences lead humans into redemption, and the rejuvenation of the soul, the cleansing of the spirit comes after a period of misery and pain. In his play King Lear, William Shakespeare creates a story of spiritual blindness, sin, and penalties. Each character including Albany, Edmund, Gloucester, and King Lear suffer from spiritual loss of sight and obtain the intuition to follow the cycle of sin, redemption, and

Ways Shakespeare Presents Madness in King Lear

687 words - 3 pages Another way Shakespeare presents change in Lear’s identity is through the use of mental derangement. At the beginning of the play he is sane but mad. We can see this through Lear’s absurd decisions to decide the next rulers of the country with a ‘love test’. The self-inflated dignity of Lear. Has caused him to place the future of 8th century England in jeopardy in exchange for a mere few praises to affirm his status as king. A king is

The Importance Of A Parent Child Bond In King Lear

1147 words - 5 pages The Importance of a Parent Child Bond in King LearThe strongest, truest love is that a parent and child share. Unconditional and forever, it incorporates every division of love. Although, the bond between parent and child can be held together with great strength, either, can hold a persona or can disguise a certain aspect of their character. Seemingly, in King Lear it is quite evident that parents may not truly know what their child is capable

King Lear And Catcher In The Rye Comparison

350 words - 2 pages One point of similarity between these two texts, which works on the level of plot and theme, is a walk through a proverbial wilderness wherein the protagonist suffers, discovers truths about himself, and ultimately is humbled by his experiences.  Holden Caulfield takes a three day journey through New York City, fending for himself and suffering from an exposure to both nature and society. King Lear follows a very similar course in the play as

Explore How Religion Is Presented And Developed In Richard Ii And King Lear

857 words - 4 pages Both plays, Richard II and King Lear, start by Richard and Lear believing that the gods are on their side and that God put them there for a reason (the divine right of kings). However throughout the plays their attitude towards divine assistance changes and they both realise they will have to pay for their mistakes. The divine right of kings in Richard II is present throughout the play. In Act 3, Scene 2 Richard says, ‘not all the water in

Related Essays

Justice In King Lear Essay

1217 words - 5 pages Vassallo Claire English Tutorial – King Lear At the end of King Lear the evil characters die a violent death, but so do the good ones. What does the play say about human and divine justice, or its absence? There are many evident themes in Shakespeare’s play, ‘King Lear’, but perhaps one of the most prevalent relates to the theme of justice. ‘King Lear’ is a brutal play, filled with human cruelty and awful disasters. The play’s

How Does Shakespeare Explore The Theme Of Justice In King Lear?

1954 words - 8 pages How does Shakespeare explore the theme of ‘Justice’ in King Lear? It is often assumed that the role of ‘Justice’ within a play is to serve as the source of goodness and anti-thesis of suffering, however in ‘King Lear’ Shakespeare utilises the theme of Justice to portray powerful messages, providing not just a contrast to the deterioration within the play but an explanation for the anguish witnessed. The notion of ‘Poetic Justice’ or

Redemption In King Lear Essay

673 words - 3 pages exists, and in this reply to her father she is allowing him to be redeemed. He went from being a selfish tyrant to a loving father, and although the play ends with Cordelia’s tragic death and it ends in sadness, the final image of the play is more about Lear’s redemption than the sadness, as this redemption of the main character allows the audience to forgive him. This forgiveness from the audience is what makes “King Lear” stand out among other tragedies.

Artistic Form In King Lear Essay

1382 words - 6 pages from the Irish playwright Nahum Tate to a friend, written in 1681. In the letter, Tate describes King Lear as "a Heap of Jewels, unstrung and unpolisht." He describes in detail how he plans to rework several major elements of the story, adding a love affair between Edgar and Cordelia, rescuing Lear and Cordelia from execution, omitting The Fool (a source of wisdom as well as comic relief), and establishing "poetic justice" at the plays end. Tate