How has critical readings enhanced or broadened your understanding of the text?

Essay by easymoneywomanCollege, Undergraduate June 2003

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The play King Lear is a good example of how critical readings achieve this as it has welcomed different types of readings influenced by social, cultural and historical contexts from which it arose. Of these readings, two in particular Aristotelian Tragedy and Marxism are best in demonstrating this.

Aristotelian Tragedy originated from a Greek "model of tragedy" invented by the man Aristotle (384-322BC) which manifested his view on Aristotelian Tragedy in his famous poetics chapters 6 to 9. This particular reading consisted arousing the specific emotions of pity and fear termed catharsis, in addition the progression of a noble protagonist's downfall due to a character flaw.

Now if the play were to be interpreted by this reading, then we would see King Lear as a tragedy about a man named Lear due to his excessive pride acts foolishly upon the division of his Kingdom bringing catastrophe turning his world from order to disorder.

Lear is blind and irresponsible both as a father and ruler. He is preoccupied with appearances and is content to give away all responsibilities as long as he keeps his status. Although we realise early how false Lear's values are, but as the play progresses, more and more we feel pity for this old man.

In Act 2, Lear's better qualities are revealed, his hiring of Kent is a sign that Lear inspires loyalty and his interaction with the fool shows a more tolerant side to his nature. By the time Lear rushes out onto the approaching storm, our pity is taken with him and the responder feels the full blow of catharsis as fear starts to strike as we witness the cruel fate our heroic Lear endures. This is demonstrated when Lear speaks " I am a man more sinned against than sinning" Yet he has...