How is conflict dramatically represented in King Lear?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way in which conflict is presented in this excellent tragedy is through the storm that rages throughout Act III as Lear wanders around on the heath. This storm could symbolically represent a number of different aspects of conflict. Of course, primarily it could be argued to represent the conflict and inner turmoil that Lear himself is experiencing. Note how at the beginning of Act III scene 2, Lear appeals to the storm to become stronger and destroy all in its path:

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!

You cataracts and hurricanes, spout

Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!

.... Strike flat the thick rotundity o' the world!

Crack nature's moulds, all germens spill at once

That makes ingrateful man!

This clearly represents the inner conflict within Lear as he tries to reconcile the way that he has been treated with his increasing loss of control as madness sets in and his own guilt at the way that he exiled his one true daughter.

However, note too how it could be said to reflect the conflict that is tearing Lear's kingdom apart. The storm reflects the "division" that is evident in the kindom that Kent alludes to when he talks to the Gentleman in Act III scene 1.