King Lear: Doom of Humankind

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The notion of prophesying the dooming end of humankind is quite abstract. To put it succinctly in term of Bradley, the idea that 'the strain of man's bred out into animals; this bestial degradation will end in a furious struggle of all with all, in which the race will perish.' In other words, the human flaw in the play is mere the magnified figure of our own flaw in humanity. Thus the fate of mankind and the characters in the play are linked intricately, and Shakespeare ruthlessly shows how the 'bestial degradation' draws the humankind closer to the inevitable doom. Collapse of family through Selfishness

The contention between youth and age is of commonplace, and somehow it lies in our instinct. As Brooks put it as 'Children often seem to their parents to be ungrateful; and the old must in some degree be deserted by the young'. (Brooks) Shakespeare, however, reveals the very essence of that horror within the selfishness of the young. At last they care nothing but their own convenience (Leggart) and the aged Lear are meant to be a troublesome old nuisance in their account. The destruction of core human bond, family, foretells the destruction of humankind itself. Apart from the break of parent-child relationship, Shakespeare also launches second blow on humanity, which is the misconception of love. Lear asks "which of you shall we say does love us most?" With the word "most" he exposed his fatal weakness that love can be quantified. In the responses, all Goneril does is measure the quatity of her love. We might think of their later rivalry for Edmund as love. Regrettably, 'the lust that drives them is not desire for Edmund but mere jealousy of each other.'(Leggart) Yet the break of parent-child relationship and love is not quite the devastating blow inflicted by the doom-day hammer from Shakespeare. The hardest strike that humankind suffer most is the fact that there is no god to reward the virtue, punish the error. The profound suffering and...
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