Unchecked power shakespeare s macbeth and king lear

Ryan Wilkins In many of the plays by William Shakespeare, the central character goes through internal and external changes that ultimately shake their foundations to the core. But such theories overlook the fact that it is in this very same period and in the same tragic works that portray the heights to which human nature can rise and fall in its purest and noblest, if not happiest terms. Surely the creation of so much light alongside the darkness and the perfection of the artistic medium through which Shakespeare gives them expression argues against the idea that the greedy side of human nature is his chief concern. His efforts to portray human life in its rarest form and not only the dark depths, but also the treasure rooms of our being.

Unchecked power shakespeare s macbeth and king lear

The king ismore than the physical evidence of a strong and united government. If a king lacks the essential components of kingly behavior, and the authority that these traits embody, his subjects will, as Goneril and Regan demonstrate, turn increasingly to deception, treachery, and violence as a method of government.

In his first scene, Lear initially comes across as a strong ruler, although his plan to divide his kingdom among his three daughters seems rather short-sighted and self-serving. This decision places his two strong sons-in-law, Albany and Cornwall, in charge of protecting the outlying areas of the kingdom.

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But the single benefit derived from this division creates many problems. Lear is abdicating his purpose and his responsibilities, and he is also creating chaos. To achieve his goal, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia are forced into a love test to determine their inheritance.

The division of any kingdom is not without risk, but even before his action has the opportunity to create adversity, Lear establishes a competition, which complicates an already dangerous decision. Competitions, by their very nature, result in winners and losers.

Unchecked power shakespeare s macbeth and king lear

Cordelia loses when she refuses to play the game, but Lear also loses when he "retires" and abdicates his kingly role. He cannot be king without a kingdom, and the country, which is to be divided into smaller principalities, will not have the unity and strength to long survive as separate units.

The love test forces Regan and Goneril into competing against the favored younger sister.

Essays academic papers: Unchecked Power in Shakespeare's Macbeth and King Lear

Ultimately, deadly conflict arises between Lear and his older daughters, and the long-standing competition between sisters creates conflict between ruling factions, further dividing the kingdom.

Already, though, Cornwall and Albany show signs of uneasiness, a discord with the clear potential to evolve into conflict, and perhaps, civil war. Goneril and Regan soon unite against a common foe — their own father; but it is reasonable to assume that Goneril and Regan, having disposed of Cordelia, would have next turned their troops and anger against one another.

Certainly, Edmund was counting on this event, since he indicates he will marry whichever one survives the struggle for absolute control V. In the opening of the play, Lear is the absolute ruler, as any king was expected to be in a patriarchal society such as Renaissance England.

Lear enters in Act I as the king, evoking grandeur and authority, representing God and the reigning patriarchy of kingship. The audience quickly forgets this initial impression because the love test, in all it absurdity, forces the audience into seeing Lear as a foolish, egotistical old man.

By the time Shakespeare was writing King Lear, the English had survived centuries of civil war and political upheaval.

The human contradiction

The English understood that a strong country needed an effective leader to protect it from civil war and potential foreign invasion. The strong leadership of Elizabeth I had saved England when the Spanish attempted an invasion inand much of the credit for her success was attributed to her earlier efforts to unite England and to end the religious dissention that was destroying the country.

The division of a country would have weakened it, leading to squabbles between petty lords and the absence of an effective central government and a capable means of defense. The audience would also have questioned the choice of the French king as a suitor, especially as Lear intended to give Cordelia the choice center section of his kingdom.

But Lear is doing more than creating political and social chaos; he is also giving his daughters complete responsibility for his happiness, and he will blame them later when he is not happy.

All of these events create a picture of King Lear as a poor model of kingship, one who reacts emotionally and without reason. Lear is very much loved by every good character in the play, with only those characters who are unworthy of kingship hating him and plotting against him.

Goneril, Regan, Cornwall, and Edmund offer a contrasting image of kingship in their animosity and evil, behavior that is brutal and uncaring, rather than loving and paternal. One other important element of kingship is its connection to natural law and the image of kings as anointed by God.

Kingship is directly connected to natural law, which is a central force in this play. A successful king works in concert with nature, as Lear does until the moment he disinherits his youngest daughter.

In King Lear, the King of France stands as a successful model of how a good and proper king should behave. In his acceptance of Cordelia — even without benefit of a dowry — France is conducting himself with reason and conscience. He is also acting within the confines of natural law, with generosity of spirit and a willingness to share his life and country.

But instead of seeing this kind father and patriarchal authority, the audience witnesses an absolute ruler, one who refuses questioning, or even the wisdom of his lords. Goneril and Regan equate their share of the land with absolute power of a monarch. They reject any allegiance to God or to any divine justice.

Goneril and Regan can be as absolute in their decisions as Lear chooses to be; their behavior echoes his.For in King Lear Shakespeare contrived to represent the practice of torture in such a way as to make it utterly recognizable—the urgent questioning of someone who has been caught conniving with a foreign power to invade the realm and topple the established regime—and utterly unacceptable.

Four tragedies written by William Shakespeare are provided in this quite portable book. Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth all share the pages and are edited by four different people, one for each play.

Kingship and Lear

Comedy: Comedy, type of drama or other art form the chief object of which, according to modern notions, is to amuse. It is contrasted on the one hand with tragedy and on the other with farce, burlesque, and other forms of humorous amusement.

The classic conception of comedy.

Unchecked power shakespeare s macbeth and king lear

is and in to a was not you i of it the be he his but for are this that by on at they with which she or from had we will have an what been one if would who has her. Unchecked Power in Shakespeare's ''Macbeth'' and ''King In many of the plays by William Shakespeare, the central character goes through internal and external changes that ultimately shake their foundations to the core.

Relinquishment of Power in Shakespeare's King Lear King Lear is an actor who can only play the king. Thus, after he has abdicated his throne, passing the authority to his posterity, he still demands respect and power, which he is unable to claim from any of his former subjects, even his daughters.

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