The Wars Of The Roses Essay

758 Words May 19th, 2015 4 Pages
The birthplace of modern western democracy endured decades upon decades of civil war, but this same civil war that savaged Britain for so long also spurred the growth of democracy. The Wars of the Roses helped shape the future of Britain and the wider the world, and it also helped form the basis for William Shakespeare’s King Lear. Shakespeare lived in a time in British history only a century after the conclusion of this brutal conflict, and it had a powerful impact on his writing. Conflict over the line of succession is the main conflict in both King Lear and in the Wars of the Roses, and Shakespeare manipulates this struggle to convey his message that absolute power in the hands of a few can be disastrous. This allusion to this major historical event allows Shakespeare to express the most threatening element to civilized authority: civil war.
As King Lear opens with the King realizing that it is time for him to begin handing over power to his three daughters. However his own vanity blinds him from realizing that two of his three daughters, Goneril and Regan, are innately evil and will do anything to seize his power. This is very similar to the intrigue that caused the Wars of the Roses, with the Henry VI slowly losing his sanity. In both instances the vacuum of power left by the two king’s relinquishment of complete authority led to conflict. In the case of King Lear, the way Goneril and Regan treat their aging father causes Cordelia to return to Britain with a French…

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