The Storm in King Lear

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Catherine Dunn argues in The Storm in King Lear that the storm in Shakespeare’s King Lear is brought on by ingratitude symbolizes the cosmic chaos of the Empedoclean type as opposed to the Christian Last Judgment. Although the storm often symbolizes the Last Judgment to a Christian audiences Dunn believes the primitive story of Lear operates within a framework of pagan cosmology. According to Dunn this destruction of the universe by Strife is depicted by the categorization of the characters into two disparate groups symbolizing Love and Hate. This portrayal of the play’s characters supports Dunn’s idea of an appeal to pagan cosmology as it articulates the idea that Love and Hate are the two ultimate forces in the universe. Dunn expresses this belief on page 329 where the where she states “. . .the two [groups] are set in conflict, almost as if Shakespeare, like Empedocles, were regarding Love and Hate as the two ultimate forces of the universe." (Dunn 329). Catherine Dunn further argues that ingratitude is not only the sole reason for King Lear’s fall to sanity and loss of family affection, but even more is the origin of cosmic chaos. Dunn supports this claim by subsequently stating that unthankfulness “is the particular form of Strife or Hatred, in the Empedoclean sense, which destroys the harmony of the universe and tears it into the elemental fragments which had cohered under the dominance of Love” (Dunn 330). The unthankfulness of character, according to Dun, is seen throughout the play as Regan and Goneril are constantly rejecting their father and become increasingly resentful of the land their sister was given. The aptness of cosmic chaos in the Empedoclean sense to symbolize the effect of ingratitude can be seen again as the play draws to a close. According to the article in the cosmology of Empedocles the “universe passes through a series of cycles in which first Love and then Strife predominate [and] Although Strife destroys the world, a new cosmos is...
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