King Lear: "Lear is a tragic hero, dominated by one fatal flaw"

Essay by meggyxxxxCollege, UndergraduateB+, January 2007

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A tragic hero must possess certain characteristics and act under certain conditions. King Lear is one of Shakespeare's most complex creations and most interesting and flawed tragic figures. In Lear, Shakespeare has created a multi-faceted character, a man capable of growth yet equally capable of catastrophic error. A man who possesses the greatest of flaws, but yet has the ability to gain the unquestionable loyalty and devotion of Kent, Cordelia and the Fool.

A tragic hero is usually the protagonist of the play. The tragedy of Lear is centered entirely on his character whilst entertaining a parallel and detailed sub-plot. But it is in fact Lear's plight that the audience is to identify with. I believe the sub-plot is present to further reinforce the tragic events that lead to Lear's ultimate downfall. Lear is the protagonist of the play.

A tragic hero must be of high social standing and his actions must be felt by all of society.

In the opening scene we see Lear as a strong omnipotent leader whose word is law. He is the King of England and therefore his actions most definitely affect the subjects of his kingdom. Although Shakespeare does not focus on the lives of the lower class in England, we must assume that the division of the kingdom affected them in some way. The war with France, the fact that their king had been driven insane and that they were under the rule of Regen and Goneril would have had a devastating affect on the country.

A tragic hero must be an everyman character that the audience can empathize with. Lear has many flaws, some of which are far greater than those of you and I. However, vanity, egotism, selfishness, extremistism and of course Lear's fatal flaw, his hubris, are flaws we can...