Transformations in King Lear

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Through King Lear, what idea(s) does Shakespeare advance regarding the experience of transformation? Regardless of time or place, we are all beings of change. Humanity is not unchanging, people are not static, and our experiences, whether we will them to or not, will always affect us in some way. In the tragedy of King Lear, this very thought is unmistakably apparent, for countless characters undergo transformations. Whether large or small, from Edgar to King Lear, they do so-either because they are literally forced to through a traumatic experience, or because others aid them. Furthermore, regardless of the pain and loss endured, the journey was well worth the taking.

And pain each and every one of them will endure. But, perhaps the one, who experiences the most pain, at least physically, is Gloucester. In the beginning of the play, Gloucester is not a character that stirs love or pity in the reader's heart.

He is both crude, and unbelievably rude, speaking of his bastard son Edmund as a "whoreson", who must be acknowledged. Furthermore, he is so foolish as to readily believe anything Edmund says. Consequently, he is easily turned against poor Edgar. And when Edmund finally betrays him, and when his eyes are mercilessly torn out by Cornwall, he cries for his son, and is informed of his treachery. Immediately, he understands his own folly, and despairs at it, all the while wishing Edgar well. Ironically of course, he is seeing more clearly blind that he was with both eyes in his head. However, his transformation was not yet fully fledged. In fact, it was only just beginning, for the larger change occurs with Edgar's help. Firstly, he realizes that he took too little care of the "poor, bare, forked animal" that all men truly are. Secondly, he realizes,