Paradoxes in King Lear

Topics: King Lear, Homelessness, William Shakespeare Pages: 2 (939 words) Published: February 20, 2015
The analysis of contradicting elements present in literature can lead to remarkable improvements regarding the understanding of human nature. William Shakespeare's tragedy, King Lear, contains an abundance of paradoxes that present the protagonist of the title as a dynamic character with opposing traits. Lear embodies a loving authority figure and parent while at the same time being portrayed as a hateful, neglected individual with the demeanor of a child. The side of him which is most evident varies according to the situation he encounters, but each of these features is visible throughout the play. Initially, King Lear is shown as the powerful monarch of England, successfully ruling over the land, surrounded by noblemen who follow all of his commands. He is important, respected, and may do as he pleases. However, due to his age and the amount of responsibility that comes with being a leader, he decides it is time to transfer the obligation onto his three daughters and their husbands so he can relax. Shortly after giving up the land, Lear’s status deteriorates and he quickly goes from King to nobody. He ends up outside during a violent storm, with just his fool. Acknowledging his state and inability to escape the environment, Lear addresses nature: “You owe me no subscription. Then let fall

Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand, your slave—
A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.” (3.2.18-20)

At this point, he is in the position of a homeless beggar, which could not be farther from the royal treatment that he is used to. He realizes that he is becoming increasingly helpless.

Lear was far from vulnerable when he was introduced as the paternal figure of Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia. He would tell them what to do and made his position as the father very apparent. They all told Lear how much he means to them, with Goneril and Regan going as far as saying they love him as much as life itself. This completely switches up when Lear visits Goneril after...
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