King Lear Essay, Research Paper
Shakespeare: King LearGood King, that must approve the common saw,Thou out of heavens benediction com’stTo the warm sunApproach, thou beacon to this under globe, That by thy comfortable beams I mayPeruse this letter. Nothing almost sees miracles But misery. I know ?tis from Cordelia Who hath most fortunately been informed Of my obscured course, and shall find time *From this enormous state, seeking to give Losses their remedies. All weary and o’erwatched, Take vantage heavy eyes, not to beholdThis shameful lodging.Fortune, goodnight. Smile once more; turn thy wheel.Shakespeare (H)D. BradfordNovember10, 1997Damian Schafgans”The theme of King Lear may be stated in psychological as well asbiological terms. So put, it is the destructive, the ultimatelysuicidal character of unregulated passion, its power to carryhuman nature back to chaos…. The predestined end of unmastered passion is the suicide of thespecies. That is the gospel according to King Lear. The playis in no small measure an actual representation of that process.The murder-suicide of Regan-Goneril is an example. But it ismore than a picture of chaos and impending doom. What is theremedy for chaos? it asks. What can avert the doom? Thecharacters who have mastered their passions give us a glimpse ofthe answer to those questions.” -Harold C. Goddard, The Meaning of Shakespeare, 1951 Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear, is often thought of as not only one ofShakespeare’s best works, but also one of his best “poems”. The languagefollows in Shakespeare’s trademark format using iambic pentameter in muchof the play. Shakespeare’s It is we ll known for its many universalthemes. Some of these themes are: Dealing with he folly of old age and theingratitude of youth; Good versus evil; Nature; Vision and blindness; andFortune. These themes have been examined for hundreds of years in many different forums, but what makes this play so unique is the fact thatShakespeare incorporates all of these issues in just one tale. One character that examines some of these issues is a character namedKent. Kent is a significant character in King Lear, as he is involved fromthe beginning to the end. Kent is the ideal first mate to the commander ofthe ship of state. From the moment we meet him and observe his tactfulresponse to Gloucester’s bawdy chatter, we know we can rely onthis good man. It doesn’t take long for us to become better acquainted.When Lear banishes Cordelia, and Kent speaks up in her behalf, he is boldbut courteous. And he sticks to his guns, even at the risk of his ownbanishment. The measure of his devotion to his master, the king, is shown by his assumption of a disguise. Thisenables him to continue in Lear’s service. There are several additionalfacets of Kent’s personality. He can be hotheaded, as in the outburst thatinfuriates Lear in the very first s cene. And his treatment of Oswald ishardly gentle. Kent even shows a sense of humor in his lengthy descriptionof Goneril’s steward. Kent is not a great philosopher, but he doesacknowledge that there are greater forces determining our fates. Heendures disfavor and discomfort stoically. His devotion and faithfulnessare always in our minds. In the midst of the final turmoil, we still havecompassion for Kent when he tells us that he cannot fulfill the onlyformal request made of him. He cannot share the responsibility for restoring order to England because he is nearing hisown end. As mentioned before, Kent clearly belives in a greater sence of fate andfortune. This is exactly what his speech is about in act two, scene two.Kent is at the bottom of the wheel of fortune, and he is looking for thewheel to turn in his favor. Dissecti ng the speech line for line is theonly real way of understanding the speech. The first line, “Good king,that must approve the common saw,” is an allusion to Lear and his dutiesas his subjects percieve them to be, with the word “saw” meaning proverb.”t hou out of heavens benediction com’st to the warm sun,” means thatLear, out of heavens blessing once again will be in the sun, or recognizedas the king. “Approach thou beacon to this under globe” is the idea thatKent wants some sort of illumination, wh ether it be the sun or the moon,to come to his place at the dredges of the society. “That by thycomfortable beams I may peruse this letter” means that Kent wants to reada letter that he has received, but is unable to, as it is too dark.”nothing almost sees miracles but misery” clearly Kent is at the bottom of the wheel offortune, being placed in stocks and left outside, and he is the embodimentof this “misery” and he realizes that this letter he holds could indeed bea miracle of sorts. “I know ?tis from Cordelia who hath most fortunatly been informed of my obscuredcourse and shall find time from this enormous state, seeking to givelosses their remedies.” This is the idea that Cordelia has been informedof Kent’s “interesting” situation and may be able to help him out in his mission. “All weary and o’erwatched, takevantage heavy eyes not to behold this shameful lodging.” Kent realizesthat while he is helpless to do anything but sleep while locked in thestocks, and figures that it would in fact be to his advantage to sleep andforget about his predicament and get some well needed sleep. “Fortune,good night. Smile once more, turn thy wheel.” Kent recognizes that hecannot get any lower on the wheel of fortune and that it is only a matterof time before he comes back to power with Lear. King Lear is a timeless tale of honor, betrayal, usurpation of power andgreed. Clearly Shakespeare was not only a great poet, but he was also anobserver. He recognized certain qualities and emotion that all humansexhibit. The reason that he was so incr edible was that he was able tobalance between the fiction and magic of Lear and his daughters, and thetruth and realities of greed and power.