Chaos and Society in King Lear
by Maya Belle on 26 May 2016 210
King Lear has given his power to his two eldest daughters Goneril and Regan, they realize that their father no longer has power and go against their father.
Regan and Goneril are Lear’s eldest daughters. The two eldest sisters lie on how much they love Lear so that they could get their share of the kingdom. Once they gain power they both work together and begin to plot against their father making Lear go insane
Cordelia is Lear’s favorite daughter, when Lear put his daughters to the test and asked them to tell him how much they loved him so he could divide his kingdom based on their response. Cordelia replied by telling her father that she loves her father as much a daughter is suppose to love to
In beginning lines of the play, Lear disrupts the natural order when he made the executive decision of giving his kingdom and inheritance to his daughters before his death instead of writing a will, all because he is far too lazy and old to tend to his kingdom much longer– although he still intends on reaping in the rewards of being king. In the first act, he states;
To shake all cares and business from our age,
Conferring them on younger strengths while we
Unburdened crawl toward death.—Our son of Cornwall,
And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
We have this hour a constant will to publish.
Our daughters’ several dowers, that future strife
May be prevented now. (1.1.38-43)
Our group focused on chaos, the great chain and its importance in the plot, setting and characters
The chaos in society in the play King Lear by William Shakespeare is a result of Lear’s less than smart decisions to disrupt the natural order for his own personal benefit and ultimately lead to his own downfall in the play.
The Great Chain of Being: Details a strict and very inflexible hierarchical structure of society. Every creature has its place in society on varying degrees of responsibility and authority.
The Wheel of Fortune: The concept that fortune is unpredictable. The unpredictable nature of fortune is explained by a blindfolded women who spins the wheel at random, changing the positions of those on the wheel
Lear’s decision to divide his kingdom for public flattery begins the destruction of the natural order that leads to chaos and death.
1. Lear’s blindness is the primary cause of the bad decisions he makes during the play. Lear ends up disowning and banishing his favourite daughter Cordelia while he divides the kingdom amongst his wicked daughters Goneril and Regan. He believes they love him the most in which they don’t.
Goneril and Regan take advantage of Lear’s powerless role and disrespect him as a father and a king leaving him in a raging storm. They use the power Lear gives them completely destroy him.
Lear’s dividing of his kingdom later results in his own tragedy. His death brings the chaos in society to an end and forces the country to make wiser decisions.
Lear: Lear is a simple minded and lazy character who would rather bask in the good things in life than take responsibility for his own actions and duties. His spontaneous and dumb decisions made in the beginning set the tone of the entire play and cause his destruction as well as many others.
On the other side of the kingdom, Gloucester and his family are experiencing a similar situation and a shift in natural order and this one is involuntary.
Gloucester has two sons, a legitimate one named Edgar and an illegitimate one named Edmund. Edmund, from the beginning was always ridiculed for being conceived out of wedlock despite the fact that his father said he loved them equally. Edmund did not like the embarrassment and came up with a scheme to receive all the inheritance by tricking his father.
Character’s Decisions cause…
The ending of the play solidified all the actions carried out during the play and the consequences of all the character’s decisions set in on both sides of the kingdom.
Gloucester and Lear’s tragic flaws during the beginning stages of the play caused majority of the horrid outcome at the end. Almost all of the characters end up dying or end up killed and no one prevails in the end. Main characters like Lear and Gloucester both die tragically and in misery due to their own mistakes in the play.
Foreshadowing“ To shake all cares and business from our age, /Conferring them on our younger strengths while we /unburdened crawl toward death” (1.1.40-3)
Symbol: “Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown when thou gavest thou golden one away” (1.4. 159-60)
Pathetic fallacy “Blow, Winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!/ You cataracts and hurricanes, spout/ Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!” (3.2.1-3).
Foreshadowing “Let us withdraw, ’twill be a storm” (2.4.287)
Poetic justice “The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices/ Make instruments to plague us.” (5.3.170-1)
Theme illustrating passages:
“Here I disclaim all my paternal care, propinquity and property of blood, and as a stranger to my heart and me.” (1.1.114-117).
“On the sixth to turn thy hated back, Upon our kingdom. If on the next day following, Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions, The moment is thy death.”(1.1.178-181)
“That thou hast sought to make us break our vows, Which we durst never yet, and with strained pride, To come betwixt our sentence and our power, Which nor our nature, nor our place can bear, Our potency made good take thy reward.” (1.1.171-174)
“Pray you let us hit together: if our father carry authority wish such disposition as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us” “We must do something and I’ the heat.” (1.1.310-315)
“For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines, Lag of a brother? Why “bastard”? Wherefore “base”? (1.2.5-7)
Thank you for listening to and participating in our presentation!