Inner Weakness Of King Lear

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The Inner Workings of King Lear:
A Mirrored Image of England’s Royals The sensationally conceptualized and depicted tragedy of William Shakespeare’s King Lear has created shock and dismay in audiences around the world for over four centuries. With this play, one of his most highly regarded, Shakespeare exposes the brutal inner dynamics of a fictional royal family—from their struggles to establish their own identities to their physical, mental, and emotional battles for power. While Shakespeare is often accredited as English literature’s most influential writer, his early seventeenth century King Lear proposes its own substantially implicit external motivation. Written in an era when England’s Royal Family warred mercilessly amongst themselves
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Following Goneril’s and Regan’s artificial displays of affection, Cordelia—Lear’s youngest daughter—refuses to invoke overt and exaggerated blandishment to prove her love for her father. Cordelia’s noncompliance, though a testament to her genuine devotion, leads to her unwarranted exile: “Here I [Lear] disclaim all my paternal care” (King Lear I.i.114). This rejection of King Lear’s daughter reflects an analogous disregard of Elizabeth I, one of Henry VIII’s finest children: “Her birth was a disappointment to her father” (“Women in Power” 749), and “Statutes declaring . . . Elizabeth illegitimate were already in place” (725). Similar to Cordelia—who is portrayed by Shakespeare as Lear’s most compassionate child: “That she, whom even but now was your best, / The argument of your praise, / Most best, most dearest” (King Lear I.i.216-218)—Elizabeth—who ascended to England’s throne in 1558—treats her followers with the utmost respect and kindness: “Her grace . . . most tender and gentle . . . did declare herself no less thankful to receive her people’s goodwill than they lovingly offered it unto her” (“Women in Power” …show more content…
In King Lear, Goneril treacherously conspires against the members of her family in an attempt to secure ultimate sovereignty. With the conclusion of Shakespeare’s play, she ruthlessly murders both of her younger sisters—first Regan: “Her sister / By her is poisoned; she hath confessed it” (King Lear V.iii.226-227), followed by Cordelia: “He hath commission from thy wife and me / To hang Cordelia in the prison” (V.iii.252-253). Here, the intersections formed between Shakespeare’s plot and England’s Royals are found in the incessant—and often groundless—executions performed by those in power. During her reign as queen, Mary I authorizes the beheading of Lady Jane Grey—a distant relative—because her “councilors convinced her that Jane would pose a danger as long as she remained alive” (“Women in Power” 728). It is with the true existence of this very depravity and sense of meaningless chaos that Shakespeare was able to present his audience with such raw and genuine depictions of royal life. With the haunting and painfully catastrophic events of King Lear, William Shakespeare reflects the cruel and tragic era that is Tudor

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