King Lear, a Shakespeare tragedy

The same weekend I watched Twelfth Night, I also saw King Lear. Needless to say it has a much different tone.

King Lear has a near-and-dear sentiment to me. I not only saw it outside on a beautiful summer evening, but also studied it in my high school English class. My teacher was very passionate about this play and it rubbed off on me.

King Lear creates strong imagery that, after seen, leaves a deep impression. The scene where the Earl of Gloucestor has his eyes gauged out stays in my mind vividly. And how could it not? When my teacher explained that Shakespeare created this disturbing scene, the point was to have mankind strongly repudiate it, and instantly acknowledge that everything about it was morally wrong. 

When I wasn't in the theater and I was sitting in class I gained a different insight: the framework of a tragic hero.

This concept says that the main character has a tragic flaw, a mistake which he tends to make at the beginning of the story and the consequences of his character trait or action follow him to the end of the story. The tragic hero is defined as a great and noble character, in fact the most noble, so his mistake (or "tragic flaw") affects everybody in his association. In Shakespearean tragedies, no character comes out with a decent ending.

King Lear was a harder one to read than Macbeth or Hamlet because, although he was stubborn old king, he was an older man than most of Shakespeare's tragic heroes, and in a much more venerable condition. When Lear lost his mind it was hard to watch and created a greater sense of sympathy than any other of Shakespeare's tragic characters. 


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