The symbolism of Shakespeare’s King Lear

The drama King Lear by the famous classic author Shakespeare is a brutal play. King Lear is not just about family dynamics, but also about political authority. Lear is also a king, not just a father. He delivers himself, his family as well as his entire kingdom into cruelty and chaos when he passes his authority to the evil Goneril and Regan.

The kingdom of Britain descends into civil unrest as Edmund begins his ascension while the two wicked sisters indulge their appetite for power. Lear has destroyed all authority in Britain while destroying his own authority. The hierarchal order represented initially by Lear falls apart, being replaced by chaos and disorder.

During the storm, Lear’s wanderings on the heath represent the failure of authority in the face of chaos. Lear understands how insignificant he is in the world when he is witnessing the powerful forces of nature. This is proved to be a much more important understanding than the realization of his loss of political control. Lear is compelled to become caring and humble and to re-prioritize his values. He hopes to confront the chaos in the political realm with this newfound understanding of himself.

Unhappiness and darkness pervade King Lear in the devastating Act 5. The play presents the central relationship between the king and Cordelia. This is a dramatic show of self-sacrificing, true love. Even from afar, Cordelia remains devoted, rather than despising Lear for banishing her. She eventually returns with an army to rescue the king.

Meanwhile, Lear reaches the point where he can reunite joyfully with Cordelia after learning a cruel lesson in humility. Eventually, the king experiences the balm of Cordelia’s forgiving love. An important ingredient to reconciliation with Cordelia is Lear’s recognition of the error of his ways. The king has finally understood the depth and sincerity of her love. Cordelia comes back to Lear due to his maturation. This can be seen as a testament to love’s ability to flourish amid the chaos and horror.

Madness is associated with both hidden wisdom and disorder. This motif occupies a central place in the play. In the early sections of the play, the Fool gives Lear insight despite the fact that he is offering his counsel in an apparently mad babble. When Lear goes mad himself, the chaos descended upon his kingdom mirrors the turmoil in his mind. However, by stripping him of all royal pretensions and reducing him to his bare humanity, Lear’s insanity also provides him with important wisdom. The

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March 31, 2017

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