King Lear Research Paper

1323 Words6 Pages
In Shakespeare’s King Lear, the natural state of man plays a pivotal role in the development of characters. Man’s natural state “art the thing itself; unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked, animal as thou art.” For a man to be accommodated, implies that he is no more than an animal. The accommodations of Lear, Edgar, and Kent include clothing, power, and titles, but without those accommodations, they are reduced to an animal-like state because animals have no desire for things that are not essential to one’s survival. In the initial reading of King Lear, the natural state of man seems like a negative state induced by a bad turn of events; however, a closer examination provides that the natural state of man promotes wisdom…show more content…
He does so in order to hide from the soldiers because he supposedly commits treason against his father. In the process of his transformation, he changes his identity by covering his face with grime and dirt and by mutilating himself. Although, he changes his clothing, hygiene, and physical appearance, he still retains his inner character. At the end of act II scene ii, Edgar says, “nothing I am”(2.3.21) thereby giving the notion that, although he is changing his identity, he still has the ability to define himself. Instead of saying, “I am nothing,” he inverts the phrase to show that he understands the role he is assuming as a beggar, but he still has the capacity to retain his core qualities and define his character. Edgar “take[s] the basest and most poorest shape”(2.3.7) in order to “preserve” himself(2.3.6). If he does not preserve himself, he will be hung, and his natural state will be…show more content…
Ironically, everyone that did not embrace their natural state dies. Because Lear died, it can be assumed that he achieved his natural state too late in the play. Therefore, he could not be saved. Despite the fact that he dies, His death is peaceful compared to the death of Goneril, Regan, and Edmund. Lear ends his life by saying “Thank you, sir,”(5.3.373) which implies that he is at peace with himself and ready to transcend the material world and rise into the natural world. Edgar and Kent are the only ones that continue to live. After Lear dies, Albany offers the kingdom to Edgar and Kent, the only two characters left standing that embraced their natural state. However, Kent denies because he has a “journey”(5.3.390). Moreover, Because Kent is unable to continue serving Lear, he is stripped of his natural purpose in life. Therefore, it is understood that Kent’s “journey”(5.3.390) is a reference to suicide. Regardless, Edgar and Kent assume the role of beggars at some point in the play. Now, they are offered all the land in the kingdom. Shakespeare’s King Lear is designed to show that although power, items, clothes, and titles can define a man’s prominence, they cannot define a man’s true, inner-character. A man’s inner character becomes evident when he is stripped of all his accommodations and only has himself in his most natural

More about King Lear Research Paper

Open Document