King Lear's Transition in Shakespeare's Play, King Lear Essay

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King Lear's Transition in Shakespeare's Play, King Lear

In the play King Lear, by William Shakespeare, the main character, Lear, takes the audience through his journey toward his enlightenment. At the beginning of the play Lear appears to be an arrogant man who is too much of the flesh. He associates money and power with love and respect. Thus, when Lear has given all this material possessions to his daughters, Goneril and Regan, he begins his long journey of self discovery. Through an analysis of two passages, one can see the transition of Lear from a man blinded by the flesh to a caring and compassionate madman that sees the truth.

The first passage comes from act I, scene iv. Lear's arrogance is illustrated in this passage as
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The anger, brought forth by the realization of the truth, has humbled Lear; Thus, he no longer commands nature, but is confined to nature's laws.

Although it is evident that Lear's arrogance has been dissolved, Lear's perception of Goneril and Regan has not changed. In act I, scene iv, Lear describes how Goneril's evil deeds against him is "sharper than a serpent's tooth . . ." (I.iv.254). This is an accurate description of Goneril's role; In the story of Genesis, the serpent was a character that brought forth Adam and Eve's enlightenment to a higher state of consciousness. Similarly, in King Lear, the characters Goneril and Regan have forced the rebirth of Lear through their betrayal of their father.

Lear's speech in the first passage follows a well constructed, ten syllables per line, verse which is common to most of Shakespeare's characters. An example of this is when Lear says, "Into her womb convey sterility! / Dry up in her the organs of increase, / And from her derogate body never spring / . . ." (I.iv.245-247). However in the second passage, Lear's speech becomes very erratic, with lines ranging from four syllables to as many as fourteen syllables. Also, Lear changes from verse to prose in the last three lines of this passage:

There's hell, there's darkness, there is the sulphurous pit,
Burning, scalding, stench, consumption; fie, fie, fie! pah,

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