In the play King Lear, by William Shakespeare, the main character, Lear, takes the audience through his journey toward his enlightenment. At the beginning of the play Lear appears to be an arrogant man who is too much of the flesh. He associates money and power with love and respect. Thus, when Lear has given all this material possessions to his daughters, Goneril and Regan, he begins his long journey of self discovery. Through an analysis of two passages, one can see the transition of Lear from a man blinded by the flesh to a caring and compassionate madman that sees the truth.
The first passage comes from act I, scene iv. Lear’s arrogance is illustrated in this passage as he commands nature to make Goneril infertile ; “Dry up in her organs of increase, / And from her derogate body never spring / A babe to honour her!…” (I.iv.245-258). As Lear speaks angrily to an external subject, nature, he is really speaking angrily inwardly to his subconscious. As seen in Oedipus Rex, the realisation of a truth is very painful process and often brings out strong emotions such as anger. Usually the truth is presented to a character in small increments so as not to overwhelm the character. Thus, the anger displayed by Lear is a reflection of the pain he feels from his daughter’s betrayal.
The contrary of this is found in the second passage. In this scene the audience is shown humble Lear. When he says “Let copulation thrive; for Gloucester’s bastard son / Was kinder to his father than my daughters / Got ‘tween the lawful sheets. / To’t luxury, pell-mell! for I lack soldiers.” (IV.vi.110-114). This supports that Lear is much humbler. As seen in the first excerpt, Lear command…
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…ence to better understand the nature of Lear; That is, what is going on inside him.
Through these two passages, one can see the changes in Lear’s language and the imagery he conveys about nature. These changes are a representation of Lear’s transformation from a sane man, blinded of the truth, to a madman, closer to the truth than any sane man. This study supports that Lear’s character has made a significant advance in his journey towards the truth.
Clemen, Wolfgang. The Development of Shakespeare’s Imagery. New York, NY, USA:
Free Essays: The Prologues of Oedipus Rex and Everyman
The Prologues of Oedipus Rex and Everyman
Two Works Cited A prologue is a miniature version of the actual text. It answers the elements of literature in a work, and exposes the reader to essential facts, as well as foreshadows the outcome of the work. The prologue also introduces themes, characters, and literary devices to complement the work. Thus, through the study of the prologues of Oedipus Rex and Everyman, one may learn much about the nature of both plays.
In the prologue of Oedipus, the ‘bear’ pun is used. The ‘bear’ pun is a popular literary device used in many plays. To bear means to carry a babe; To bear can also mean to carry something heavy. The pun indicates that if one cannot bear the truth (which is a very heavy object placed on the heart) than one cannot bear new life. In order to be reborn one must suffer the bearing of truth. When Oedipus says, “I, Oedipus, who bear the famous name.” (Sophocles, 715), he indicates that he is bearing the name and therefore must bear the fate that is set for him in order to conceive new life. In order for Oedipus to fully bear his name he must accept the responsibilities that follow; He must escape from the ways of the flesh. Until this time comes, the Gods must bear Oedipus’s pain until he is ready to accept it. Likewise, Everyman cannot reach enlightenment (to be free of guilt) because he cannot bear the truth. God explains why Everyman cannot be enlightened as he says, “They use the seven deadly sins damnable, / As pride, covetise, wrath, and lechery . . .” (Everyman, 761). This proves that Everyman is too much of the flesh, and he uses the ways of the flesh to keep him bound to the earth. Thus, when God says, “I see the more that I them forbear” (Everyman, 761), God is bearing Everyman’s truth until he is ready, when Everyman is no longer of the flesh.
A major theme consistent in both works is that of suffering. In Oedipus Rex, the kingdom of Thebes is suffering because of Oedipus’s sin. The suffering of Thebes is illustrated when the Priest said:
The herds are sick; children die unborn,
And labour is vain. The god of plague and pyre
Raids like detestable lightning through the city,
And all the house of Kadmos is laid waste,