Theme of King Lear

Topics: William Shakespeare, King Lear, Shakespearean tragedy Pages: 6 (1894 words) Published: December 10, 2010
King Lear is a Shakespearean tragedy that illustrates what happens when children are consumed by greed and lose their love for their parents. This is a great tragedy that is full of injustice at the beginning and the restoring of justice towards the end. The good are misjudged as evil and the evil are accepted as good. It is not until the end of the play that the righteous people are recognized as such. There is great treachery and deceit involved in the hierarchy of English rule. The play focuses on deception, greed, cruelty, and misjudgment.

Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes. The major themes are these:

Theme of justice
Theme of Madness
Theme of Good versus evil
Theme of Vision and Blindness
Theme of suffering
But the other themes which helped in these themes to progress are these:

Authority versus Chaos
Reconciliation
Betrayal
Themes of Age versus Youth

Theme of justice in king lear
Many themes are evident in King Lear, but perhaps one of the most prevalent relates to the theme of justice. Shakespeare has developed a tragedy that allows us to see man's decent into chaos. Although Lear is perceived as "a man more sinned against than sinning" (p.62), the treatment of the main characters encourages the reader to reflect on the presence or lack of justice in this world. The characters also vary in their inclination to view the world from either a fatalistic or moralistic point of view, depending on their beliefs about the presence or absence of a higher power. The theme of justice in relation to higher powers can be illustrated from the perspective of King Lear, Gloucester, and Edgar. When reading King Lear, it is helpful to understand the Elizabethan "Chain of Being" in which nature is viewed as order. Rosenblatt (1984) states that there was a belief in an established hierarchy within the universe. Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear is a detailed description of the consequences of one man's decisions. This fictitious man is Lear, King of England, whose decisions greatly alter his life and the lives of those around him. As Lear bears the status of King, he is, as one expects, a man of great power. But, sinfully, he surrenders all of this power to two of his daughters, as a reward for their demonstration of love towards him. This untimely abdication of his throne results in a chain reaction of events that sends him on a journey toward Hell, in order to expiate his sin. King Lear is a brutal play, filled with human cruelty and awful, seemingly meaningless disasters. The play’s succession of terrible events raises an obvious question for the characters—namely, whether there is any possibility of justice in the world, or whether the world is fundamentally indifferent or even hostile to humankind. Various characters offer their opinions: “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; / They kill us for their sport,” Gloucester muses, realizing it foolish for humankind to assume that the natural world works in parallel with socially or morally convenient notions of justice (4.1.37–38). Edgar, on the other hand, insists that “the gods are just,” believing that individuals get what they deserve (5.3.169). But, in the end, we are left with only a terrifying uncertainty—although the wicked die, the good die along with them, culminating in the awful image of Lear cradling Cordelia’s body in his arms. There is goodness in the world of the play, but there is also madness and death, and it is difficult to tell which triumphs in the end. Theme of Madness

Insanity occupies a central place in the play and is associated with both disorder and hidden wisdom. There is a storm in external and internal world, disturbance in human nature and in outer world. Lear is struggling...
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