King Lear Analysis

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I agree with Vanden Berg’s assertion that Cordelia is portrayed in King Lear as a Christlike figure and that the play represents Christian beliefs. In her article, “Grace, Consequences, and Christianity in King Lear,” Vanden Berg notes the opposition to the idea that Shakespeare’s play supports Christian doctrine. She cites Brower’s denial of the Christian meaning in the play when he states that while the play has “biblical and Christian allusions,” the play is not an ‘illustration’ of Christian doctrine (Vanden). Vanden Berg counters this line of reasoning with the suggestion that the play “does not follow perfectly the Christian allegory, “but it nevertheless “radiates biblical truth” (Vaden). Further, she identifies the major Christian…show more content…
This issue is addressed by Vanden Berg, to which her answer could also be interpreted as to how the audience perceives Lear in the finality of the work. Vanden Berg rejects the idea of many critics that see in Shakespeare’s ending a “denial of a redemptive scheme in the play,” and insists that Shakespeare uses Cordelia’s death as a “lesson of the reality of sin and its consequences”, sparking an image of Lear being forgiven and restored by the love of Cordelia (Vanden). However, Shakespeare’s ending shows how his sinful actions ultimately brought tragic sorrow to his life as well as the lives of others. In this choice, Shakespeare is not denying Christian beliefs but emphasizing the same truth conveyed by many other authors: the truth about the destructive nature of sin. Hawthorne’s Arthur Dimmesdale dies as a result of his sin and subsequent guilt in The Scarlet Letter, and Miller’s John Proctor dies as a result of his weakness and the false accusations of others in The Crucible. These authors show the real and lasting powerful effects of our transgressions as a warning to think about the consequences of our own actions. Therefore the redemption that seems missing from the play is fully completed when the audience accepts the lesson of the play and accepts their duty as Christians; this duty is portrayed negatively in the play by Lear as he abdicates the throne and positively by Cordelia as she gives him the love which he is due. The Christian element of the play emphasizes the sympathetic nature of Lear. Not only do we see him as a loving father who is sadly deprived of his daughter in a horrible manner, but as a fellow human traveler.

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