Discuss King Lear as a tragic hero using A.C. Bradley's definition.

Essay by WhodunitHigh School, 12th gradeA-, January 2004

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According A. C. Bradley, a tragic hero is someone who must have a position of authority, they must all have a characteristic flaw, they have to suffer, make an attempt of redemption, and finally they must die; the play King Lear is about a tragic hero named King Lear, and he is a tragic hero because he fits perfectly into Bradley's description one.

King Lear had a very high position of authority; he was the King of Britain. King Lear started off by abdicating his throne to his three daughters, "Know that we have divided/ In three our kingdom" (1.1.37-38), which was the start of disorder in the chain of being that they so heavily believed in. Because Lear stepped down as king and cause disorder in the chain of being, he had to be punished by the gods until he died. The reason for this is so that a tragic hero would gain insight through suffering and realize what they did wrong to justify their punishment.

The characteristic flaw in King Lear was that he no insight and really did not have any idea how he was treating his subjects: "O, I have ta'en/ Too little care of this!" (3.4.39-40). The Fool made him realize that he was a terrible king, and that he only thought of himself. Lear also thought very unreasonably and made quick, untimely decisions without thinking them over first. Lear first demonstrated this when he asked Cordelia to flatter him so he could give her a lot of land; Lear misunderstood what Cordelia meant to say so he disowned her and sent her to France: "Here I disclaim all my paternal care,/ Propinquity and property of blood" (1.1.120-121).

Another asset of a tragic hero must have is heavy suffering. Lear suffers tremendously before...