what isthe tragic flaw of king lear?
1 Answer | Add Yours
Firstly it is easy to note that King Lear was not a wise man. He is easily susceptible to flattery and would rather listen to the empty words of Goneril and Regan than that of Cordelia, who truly loves his but refuses to pander to his whims. It is clear that this is Lear's hamartia that it is this fatal character flaw that is his undoing. When Cordelia refuses to give in to her father's need for flattery, he turns on her, disowning her without real cause. The parent turns on their child and thus upsets the natural order of things. This is another tragic element of this play and one that is echoed though out its cause, as later Lear's other daughters, Goneril and Regan, disown Lear, rejecting him and refusing to support him now they have what they wanted. The theme of children turning on their parent adds to the upset the in natural order further, creating the breakdown in state and leading to disorder on a massive scale. This theme of children and parentage is further used in the guise of Edgar and Edmund and their father Gloucester, but to a lesser extent than the primary characters. Yet another tragic element is the decline in Lear's mental state. He spirals quickly from being a powerful king to an unwanted reject, an insane old man whom nobody wants. His life descends into chaos with the world around him, a fate that was put into action by his own hamartia and hubris. The nature of tragedies is suffering, and it is inevitable that will suffer mentally and physically, or in some cases both. Lear's mental anguish is not the only tragic element within this play, there are many points that result in the suffering of the characters, even from the outset. The angst and pain caused by Cordelia's disinheritance, Gloucester and the loss of his eyes, the decline in his own metal state to the point of contemplating suicide, they are all examples of this tragic element. As with most classic tragedies, the hamartia of the main character lead to a state of disorder on a massive scale, in that case of King Lear, this tragic element is displayed with the French invade and war ensues. (Modern tragedies tend to portray this element on a domestic level, such as conflicts with the family, discord in the home, etc.) One of the final tragic elements that all tragedies deal with in one way or another is death, and King Lear has it in abundance. Through the course of the play and the many flaws of the characters, death rears its head many times. Cornwall is killed by a servant, Oswald by Edgar, Regan poisoned by her sister Goneril, Edmund by Edgar's hand, Goneril by her own hand, Gloucester through the events, Cordelia via Edgar's earlier edict and finally Lear through grief and madness. However, as this tragic elements dictates, the death of the King and the others result in a learning experience for the other characters and even the audience. It is thought this final tragic element that hope of redemption is offered. In the case of King Lear, we find this redemption in Albany, Goneril's husband. He refused to aid his wife's cruelty towards Lear, and also helped to defend the country against the French invasion. In him we see the possibility of a better future and regeneration for the characters and countries in the story, and the audience as through the catharsis elements, they learn from the mistakes made, so that they might not commit the same errors. Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_tragic_elements_in_King_Lear#ixzz1YhEaqrEA
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes