Discuss why King Lear can be seen as the best tragedy.

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One reason as to why King Lear could be seen as the best tragedy is because its ending is unclear in terms of its tragic implications.  On one hand, the ending could be seen as profoundly moral because it cleanses.  Everyone that has been touched by the ethical and moral corruption in the drama is killed off, enabling something new and restorative to emerge.  In this sense, drama purifies and forces an evolution in both character and audience.  On another level, the ending could be seen as the most despairing in that no one is spared the condition of death.  In this vision, there is no hope in the play's ending of total annihilation.  The drama ends when they all die.  One view of the tragedy is more ancient and the other is more modern.  King Lear can be seen as the best tragedy because it straddles both conceptions of the tragic condition of humanity as well as both understandings of tragic art.  Few other works can hold both competing visions together, and King Lear is able to do so.   

Another reason why King Lear can be seen as the best of tragedies is because it is a tragedy about love.  King Lear forces both the characters on stage and the audience witnessing them to examine what love is.  When Cordelia says, "I love your majesty / According to my bond; no more nor less," she conveys a universal condition of love that poses the question that strikes at the heart of all being:  What is love?  Not to sound like a song from Haddaway, but King Lear is one of the best tragedies because it takes the most basic of sentiments that exists between human beings and forces an examination of it.  When we have to ask what love is and how we know it exists, Cordelia's words, especially when pitted against her sisters', strikes at our very being.  When have we, like King Lear, been persuaded by contingent and superficial demonstrations as opposed to the sincere expressions of love?  This is tragic in its nature because, like Lear, we realize that we have made terrible errors when we thought our decision making in the realm of love was sound and cogent.  Few other dramas get to the essence of love and no other drama forces such an intense examination of this human experience.  It is for this reason that King Lear would have to be considered as one of the, if not the, best tragedy.

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