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Chaos In William Shakespeare's King Lear

1129 words - 5 pages


A device which Shakespeare often utilized to convey the confusion and chaos within the plot of his plays, is the reflection of that confusion and chaos in the natural environment of the setting, along with supernatural anomalies and animal imageries. In King Lear, these devices are used to communicate the plot, which is summarized by Gloucester as:
     
…This villain
of mine comes under the prediction: there’s son
against father. The King falls from bias of nature:
there’s father against child.
(Act 1, Sc.1, 115 - 118)

The “bias of nature'; is defined as the natural inclination of the world. Throughout the play King Lear, ...view middle of the document...

Gloucester believed that Lear’s actions also came as a result of the star’s unusual behaviour. Edmund, the treacherous and bastard son of Gloucester, exploits Gloucester’s blind believe in the stars in his plot to oust Edgar out of the inheritance and ultimately to gain all of Gloucester’s wealth and land:

     This is the excellent foppery of the world, that
when we are sick in fortune (often the surfeits of
the sun, the moon, and stars, as if we were villains
on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves,
thieves, and treacherous by spherical predominance;
drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced
obedience of planetary influence; and all that we
are evil in, by a divine thrusting on.
(Act 1. Sc. 2, 125 - 133)

As a result of the irrational acts of trust by Lear and Gloucester, the state of England crumbled due to corruptness and treachery of Regan, Goneril and Edmund. At the point of ultimate chaos, Lear is disdained by his two evil daughters and has none of the power and honour of his kingship, and the state of nature reflects this chaos in the form of a tumultuous storm:

     Blow winds and crack you cheeks! Rage, blow!
…
Crack nature’s molds, all germens spill at once
That makes ingrateful man.
(Act 3, Sc. 2, 1 - 11)

This is evident that the chaotic state of the plot is reflected by the chaotic state of nature. This storm also enters the play at a point where Lear can be observed as near madness in his mental state. Lear’s unstable emotions causes him to remain in the rain, even as Kent has found a place of shelter:

The Body’s delicate. This tempest in my mind
Doth my senses take all feeling else
Save what beats there.
(Act 3, Sc. 4, 15 - 17)

From Lear’s emotions of disgust towards his ungrateful older daughters, comes words of malice depicting his two daughters as conniving animals which have wounded the parent. Lear proclaimed Goneril and Regan as “Those pelican daughters'; (Act 3, Sc. 4, 81), as young pelicans are thought to feed off their parents’ blood. In the mock trial held by Lear, along with Edgar, the Fool and...

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