Essays On King Lear'S Madness

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The deaths of Cornwall, Edmund, Regan, and Goneril have lulled the audience into a belief that the gods would restore order to this chaotic world.

But Cordelia's death creates new questions about the role of divine justice; a just god could not account for the death of this faithful and loving daughter.

Lear makes several poor choices, most importantly in misjudging the sincerity of his daughters' words; but when he flees out into the open heath during a storm, his madness seems a painful and excessive punishment to witness.

Parallel to Lear's punishment is that which Gloucester suffers.

Brian Boyd points out that “a reading informed by evolution will be more primed than others today to attend to the complexities and ambivalences of our readiness for hierarchy . Danby asserts that rests in a liminal stage between two competing forms of nature and reason, which implies a sociocultural evolution where “pelican” youth feed on the elderly.

Therefore, reason is an instrument that charts each character’s navigation of this bleak landscape and his or her attempt to endure the maelstrom of social transformation.Religious leaders directed people to expect that they would have to answer to a higher authority, expressing some hope that good would triumph and be rewarded over evil.But throughout King Lear, good does not triumph without honorable characters suffering terrible loss.The plucking of Gloucester's eyes can be perceived as another instance in which divine justice is lacking.Gloucester has made several errors in judgment, as has Lear; but the brutal nature of Gloucester's blinding — the plucking out of his eyes and the crushing of them under Cornwall's boots — is surely in excess of any errors he might have made.Throughout King Lear, the audience has witnessed Edmund's growing success as a reward for his evil machinations.But when Edgar and Edmund meet in Act V, the duel between these two brothers is very different from the traditional match for sport.Both Lear and Gloucester endure terrible physical and mental suffering as punishment for their misjudgment, but before dying, both men are reunited with the child each earlier rejected.This resolution of the child-parent conflict, which earlier tore apart both families, may be seen as an element of divine justice, although it offers little gratification for the audience.Reasoned madness challenges normative social behavior and is a necessary component in Lear’s evolution from a royal with absolute claim to knowledge and power to an ‘expression of unwelcome individuality.’ This paper seeks to demonstrate the complexity of madness in light of its components, namely societal pressure, age, and not least of all – genuine insanity.The degree to which Lear is capable of divesting himself of hubris and the trappings of kingship is examined.


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