The Tragic Heroes Of Shakespeare 's ' King Lear ' And ' Macbeth '

1526 Words Oct 26th, 2014 null Page
Aristotle believed that one of the strongest defining qualities of a tragic hero is the experience of anagnorisis, the moment in which the character discovers his true identity. Some consider it a virtue if a character can experience such self-awareness because he is then recognizing his own faults, perhaps even repenting. Anagnorisis makes him more sympathetic and forgivable, as the audience identifies with and cares about the character.
In two of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, King Lear and Macbeth, the anagnorises experienced by the tragic heroes are crystal clear, creating dynamic characters. Although King Lear and Macbeth each experience anagnorises, Lear’s episode makes him more sympathetic due to the depth of his regret and sadness, both of which change him in a positive way, as he dies hopeful. Meanwhile, Macbeth’s anagnorisis reveals his Nihilistic views, while his need to fight makes him pessimistic and less sympathetic due to his lack of hope. Overall, Shakespeare wants the audience to feel as much as they can through his plays, and whether that emotion is hatred or joy, it is powerfully obtained through the complex use of anagnorisis.
King Lear’s anagnorisis begins early in the play, after he wrongfully disowns Cordelia and seeks to stay with Goneril and Regan. Act II, Scene IV, one of the most significant scenes of King Lear, occurs when Goneril and Regan become allies against their elderly father, giving Lear the ultimatum of sending away all of his knights…

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