Disruption of Order in King Lear and the Causes

Topics: William Shakespeare, King Lear, Character Pages: 4 (1406 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Disorder in the Court

"Order from disorder sprung." (Paradise Lost)

A [kingdom] without order is a [kingdom] in chaos (Bartelby.com). In Shakespeare's tragic play, King Lear, the audience witnesses to the devastation of a great kingdom. Disorder engulfs the land once Lear transfers his power to his daughters, but as the great American writer, A.C. Bradley said, "The ultimate power in the tragic world is a moral order" (Shakespearean Tragedy). By examining the concept of order versus disorder in the setting, plot, and the character King Lear, Bradley's idea of moral order is clearly demonstrated by the outcome of the play.

"By removing a ‘degree' or not acting according to the ‘natural' social order, disorder and disharmony in the whole of the universe are inevitable" (Sarah Doncaster). Bradley's idea of moral order is evident from the setting of the play. An excellent example from the play would be that of the storms. By using the technique of pathetic fallacy, Shakespeare creates a storm raging in the sky to reflect the storm raging inside of Lear. Upon the heath, Shakespeare intertwines this idea of disorder in the universe and disorder within Lear. King Lear says,

Rumble they bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind thunder, fire, are my daughter:
I tax you not, you elements, with unkindness;
I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children...
(3, ii, 14-17)

Lear's feelings in this passage parallel the disorder of the storm. To bring order to the universe, Lear must start by bringing order to himself. This occurs when he becomes lawful and puts his daughters on trial. Soon after, Lear says, "When the rain came to wet me once and the wind to / make me chatter, when the thunder would not peace / at my bidding, there I found ‘em, there I smelt ‘em out" (4, vi, 100-102). Here, Lear explains how the "storm" actually helped him "see" the truth. Soon after this...

Cited: /b>

  • Bradley, A.C. Shakespearean Tragedy. London: Macmillan, 1905

  • Doe, John. "Open Quote" Bartelby.com http://www.bartleby.com/81/14917.html

  • Doncaster, Sarah. "Discuss the Representation of Nature in Shakespeare King Lear." Shakespeare Online. http://www.shakespeare-online.com/essays/learandnature.asp 04 May. 2000

  • Epictetus. Discourses. Boston: Harvard University Press, 1928

  • Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Oregon: University of Oregon, 1997

  • Shakespeare, William. King Lear. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998
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