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The Concept Of Suffer In The Play King Lear

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Through all the suffering, there is still hope in the world. Shakespeare introduces a society in his play King Lear in which no one can emerge victorious. The fact that tragedy makes no distinction between good and evil is evinced at the end of the play as although King Lear’s daughters are continuously contrasted, they are all lead to their deaths in the end. Suffering is a recurring concept in the play, symbolized by graphic violence to illustrate physical suffering and the declining mental condition of the protagonists. However, despite all these dramatic and cruel events, hope is still subtly present in the world of the play as it is portrayed through the development of characters.

The horrific suffering of the begins through King Lear’s unnatural division of the land in which Lear satisfies Goneril and Reagan’s greed when he asks “which of thee doth loves us most”. The fawning replies of Reagan and Goneril, “I love you more than word can wield the matter” and the honesty of Cordelia, ‘I love your Majesty according to my bond, no more, no less” which negatively aids the suffering that follows as Goneril and Reagan each receive half of the kingdom through their obsequious flattery while Cordelia is wrongly left to depart “farewell Cordelia, to thou unkind”. The event of Goneril and Regan beating down King Lear and his escort of knights expresses the suffering King Lear will face as this humiliation deprives Lear of his very last ounce of power. Their responsibility for Lear’s tragic downfall into madness and mental instability becomes evident when they urge him venture the wilderness despite the storm.

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Nonetheless, while Goneril, Regan and Edmund perform grievous actions in order to fulfill their ambition and desires in certain situations, others may become better as a result of them.The protagonist of the play Lear is a clear example for this. Before his sufferings, he was a violent and narcissistic King that showed his misjudgement as he punished his most loyal people Cordelia and Kent. But after going through harsh pain, Lear declares to Cordelia that he will ‘kneel down, And ask thee forgiveness’ promoting his complex development in his character flaws to come to terms with his own faults. This series of events suggests that in order for Lear to improve himself, his tragic sufferings were a necessary step to push him to change. At the end of the play, it seems that Edmund too has changed his ways for the better when he says ‘some good I mean to do, despite of my own nature’ which suggests that no matter what, we still have basic morals to regain. Thus hope is still present in the world of King Lear as redemption reveals the good nature of people.

Hope can also presented in King Lear, in the way in which directors stage the characters on set. In one dramatic interpretation of the play, in act 1 scene 1, Lear is sat down solitary with Gonerill and Regan at his side. This not only portrays the Kings increasing age, but also the manipulative power Gonerill and Regan initially have over him. During this first scene we see the gap between Cordelia and Lear increase progressively, again portraying a physical representation for their relationship and love for one another growing further and further apart. After this distancing, Cordelia, positioned front stage right, has both Kent, The Fool, and towards the end of the scene, France. The dramatic effect of this is clear to the audience; it physically highlights the allegiances of the characters, and is used also to portray other various notions in a more physical manner, one of which is hope. Hope is presented in the way in which The Fool, Kent, and France side with Cordelia, implying to the audience she is not alone in her banishment, and that perhaps these characters may

Hope can also present the way the managers stage the characters on set in King Lear. In a dramatic interpretation of the play, Lear sits alone with Gonerill and Regan at his side in act 1 scene 1. This not only depicts the growing age of the Kings, but also originally has over him the manipulative authority of Gonerill and Regan. During this first scene we see a progressive rise in the divide between Cordelia and Lear, again depicting a physical depiction of their connection and love for each other. Following this distance, Cordelia, placed right at the front point, has both Kent, The Fool, and France at the end of the scene.

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The Concept Of Suffer In The Play King Lear. (2021, September 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
“The Concept Of Suffer In The Play King Lear.” Edubirdie, 08 Sept. 2021,
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