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Critical Elements of King Lear

Although this play is 600 years old it is as relevant today as it was when it was written maybe not in historical factual terms but in terms of the human qualities which are shown in the characters. Yes, it is very much relevant. Human personality has not changed in essentials from Shakespeare’s time to the present. We recognize in his plays qualities such as avarice, greed, jealousy, deceit, cunning, selfishness, poor judgment as well as truth, honesty and loyalty. The play has already shown its significance as it stood the test of time and shown it’s a universal appeal as the play has been translated into many different languages. People from different cultures recognized the human qualities portrayed in this drama.

The central character King Lear represents the human frailty of old age, Gonorell and Regan show cunning, selfishness and duplicity while Cordelia represents truth and honesty, Kent too after being banished by his king disguises himself and protects himself with his ruler through his changing fortunes. In the opening scene, Lear’s pride and poor judgment begin this tragedy, we can identify with his role as a father trying to give a third of his kingdom to each of his daughters, We see but he doesn’t see the falsity of Gonorell and Regan and we recognize Cordelia to be genuine and true. However, her father does not and suffers the consequences of his pride, anger and obstinacy.

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My collage simplifies the play into the theme of justice or good versus evil, King Lear is the pivotal point about which the factions of good such Edgar, fool, Kent, Glouster and Cordelia are juxtaposed to the agents of personal gain such as Gonorell, Regan, Edmond and Cornwall.

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The manifestations of evil are depicted in simple terms in star wars but this play develops the themes to a far greater depth and subtlety. We see into the human personality to a greater degree and the tragedy of the king himself who goes from overweening pride, security and obstinacy, he moves through rebellious anger, despair and madness, to patience, to humility and to a new recognition of truth and goodness.

Justice triumphs over the evil forces as the two sisters and Cornwall die, Edmond is neutralized while Edgar is reunited as a champion to his king and his father, Kent reveals himself to his humble king yet tragically Cordelia dies and King Lear arrives at a sorrowful humility.

In conclusion, the same human characteristics are seen today since money, property and possessions are so important in this material world. The principles of justice, truth, honesty and authenticity often take second place to the rapacious values of our time. This play reminds us all that there are things more important than those which are connected to money.

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Critical Elements of King Lear. (2021, Mar 04). Retrieved March 24, 2023, from