King Lear "Bottoming Out"

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  • Topic: King Lear, William Shakespeare, First Folio
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  • Published : December 16, 2012
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Unit 3, Lesson 13: Key Question 13
Amanda Oreskovic
When a person “bottoms out” they are at the lowest point in their life both mentally and physically. It is a frightening stage in life that some may come across in life as it gets to the point where existing is almost unbearable. On the upside, this downfall may benefit some. Those who can gather the strength to realize that the only way they can go after hitting bottom is up could use it as a turning point for the better. Unfortunately, there are also many people who just give up the fight against the dark place referred to as “bottom.” Bottoming out is exemplified in William Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear and in Arthur Miller’s equally tragic Death of a Salesman. In order to interpret the process of Lear and Willy’s incidences with “bottoming out” it is important to analyze their lives before and after they hit the dark place in their heart and mind, and the circumstances they were both in around their different conflicts. In most people’s eyes, you would hit “rock bottom” when you hit that stage in life that extends to the point where existence is unbearable, and you are at the lowest, most horrible point in your lifetime. But hitting rock bottom is different in everyone’s eyes. In William Shakespeare’s King Lear, the title character, Lear’s madness in Act III best represents his bottom. His descent towards madness starts in his confrontation of the storm. “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow/ You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout/ Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!” (III, ii, 1-3). The storm portrays Lear’s madness and his loss on his humanity. There is a lot going on at once, and his delusions are a force of nature in his mind. Hitting rock bottom is also portrayed in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Willy knew that most of his life was a failure, but it was not until he realized that his sons knew about his suicide attempts and he knew they thought he was a failure...
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