What metaphors exist in King Lear that point to frailities of life?

Asked on by nfenne

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one of the most compelling metaphors is the figure of King Lear, disheveled and wandering, seeking to grasp what identity is in his context.  The metaphor of this old man, once of power and of control now reduced to a wandering vagabond who howls at storms and can no longer activate anything resembling power over his world is a very powerful metaphor that speaks to how frail and transitory being is in the world.  King Lear's characterization speaks to how power, greed, and coveting that which represents materialism can embody happiness in the temporary, but is overall a shallow pursuit.  King Lear gains knowledge and understanding about what constitutes valid pursuits, worthy endeavors, and true emotional connection all too late.  His entire being is a metaphor for how frail consciousness is in the world.  It is Shakespeare's genius that he presents Lear as a character who holds insight and meaning, but when it is all too late.  At the point in his life when he could have possessed such elements in a worthwhile manner, he lacks them and when he does gain them, it is too late to construct anything resembling transcendent meaning.  This metaphor for human consciousness is a really compelling one in how it forces rumination and reflection about what it means to be human and what it means to place value on that which is important.


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