King Lear

Essay by ymbhakimiHigh School, 11th gradeA+, November 2014

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Circumstances are beyond human control, but our conduct is in our own power.

Are we all pawns in a chess match? Shakespeare's King Lear, which affirms the Elizabethan belief that the guiding hand of a divine power ensures order in society, certainly suggests so. Radford's 1984, set in a future dystopian world of omnipotent government surveillance and public manipulation substantiates this, as citizens of Oceania are ultimately subject to a higher authority. This authority however, is established by the government and not a divine power as in King Lear. Both texts comment on how our relationships provide individuals with a sense of personal power, and that this empowerment is needed for redemption in society.

Lear's vagrancy and mistreatment following the division of his power and land is, as Disraeli claims, "beyond human control." The use of pathetic fallacy during the storm symbolises Lear's inner turmoil. Lear can't control the elements, and this is mirrored in his difficulty to control the other forces of power impacting upon his life.

Nonetheless, Lear begins to empathise with the "wretched" during the storm by lamenting "I have taken too little care of this!" Lear's humanity and compassion is brought to the fore in conversation with the Fool, "How does, my boy?" Moreover, the recurring motif of "sight" is important as Lear is finally able to "see" the importance of family. Edmund's struggle for power is underpinned by a lifetime of disenfranchisement due to his "baseness" and "bastardy". Edmund's lust for power, and subsequently, his tampering with the Great Chain of Being, leads to not only his own death -- but others such as Cordelia's. However, despite divine circumstance, both Edmund and Lear gain self-realisation through an understanding of the transcendent nature of love and relationships. Edmund's reunion with Edgar and the...