King Lear Tragedy Essay Titles For Hamlet

Comparison Shakespears Plays: King Lear Vs. Hamlet

William Shakespeare is probably the greatest dramatist of England. I think everyone has read one of his great plays or at least has seen one of the movies which are based on Shakespeare's work. In this essay I will compare two of his tragedies 'Hamlet, Prince of Denmark' and 'Tragedy of King Lear'.

King Lear is perhaps Shakespeare's most psychologically dark tragedy. The naive and pitiable Lear with his children, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia present all that is right and wrong with a father's relationship with his children. Lear is used to enjoying absolute power and to being flattered and he does not respond well being disagreed with and challenged. He wants to be treated as a king and to enjoy the title but he doesn't want to fulfill king's obligations of governing for the good of his subjects. At the beginning of the play his values are notably hollow; he prioritizes the appearance of love over actual devotion. Nevertheless, he inspires loyalty in subjects such as Gloucester, Kent, Cordelia, and Edgar, all of whom risk their lives for him. The tragedy illustrates the complete chaos which reigns in a state not governed by a strong ruler. Shakespeare constructed King Lear on an old folk story which exists in many countries and versions for example our version 'Gold over salt' which has same plot but ending of a fairy tale.

Hamlet is one of Shakespeare's most popular works. This is the tragedy of suffering and hesitation of an honest man who is not able to kill or punish without having a clear proof of guilt.

Both of these books are tragedies, in both books there is quarrel going on within the royal family and in both the quarrel is between the children and their parents or relatives. Hamlet is looking for the revenge on his uncle for killing Hamlet's father and he has to plan his murder. He is also upset with his mother who married the murderer of king Hamlet; he is very disappointed by her behavior.

In King Lear there are two quarrels between him and his daughters. The first one is between Cordelia and the King. When he asks his three daughters how much they love him two older daughters say that they love him above all, though it was not true but the youngest daughter, Cordelia, who is at the age in which a woman is about to marry, says she would give half of her love to her father and half to her future husband. He punishes her by giving her no property and banishes her out of his kingdom. The second quarrel is between two older daughters both of them want the kingdom and also get rid of Lear. After he gave them everything Goneril and Regan banished him. He is left in a cruel storm and he loses his wit: "Is a man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou ouwest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume." [Act III, scene II]


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King Lear is one of Shakespeare's darkest plays; darker than Measure for Measure, darker perhaps even than Titus Andronicus. So dark is it, that from 1681 to 1838 it was performed only in a tamed, even sedated version by Nahum Tate. The particular cruelty of King Lear is indicated in Shakespeare's alterations to his sources; in Holinshead's Chronicles Cordelia wins the war and restores Lear to the throne (although she does later hang herself). This darkness of tone is accompanied and indeed reinforced by a studied vagueness of time and geography.

The relationship of power and language is prominent from the beginning. Lear is at the height of his power, and plans two final acts which will settle the future of the Kingdom, of his youngest and favourite daughter Cordelia, and of himself. As might be considered typical of family events, tensions are exposed, and Lear's plan to divide the Kingdom between his daughters, marry Cordelia to the Duke of Burgundy and settle down to retirement in their third of the Kingdom is shattered. The power of language to deceive is the first and most obvious point made: Goneril and Regan are willing to say whatever they feel necessary to obtain their promised share, their empty flattery receives its reward, but Cordelia's honesty precipitates disaster.

Goneril claims to love Lear "more than eye sight", "A love that makes breath poor and speech unable, Beyond all manner of so much I love you." (1:1:62-63). Regan declares "I am alone felicitate in your dear highness' love" (1:1:77-78). In successive asides Cordelia allows the audience access to her greater integrity (or resistance) "What shall Cordelia speak? Love and be silent" (1:1:61), "Then poor Cordelia, And yet not so, since I am sure my love's more ponderous than my tongue" (1:1:75). Cordelia gives her own comment on the deceptive power of language: "that glib and oily art to speak and purpose not" (1:1:213-214).

Her fears are justified when her Father turns to her and asks: "What can you say to draw a third more opulent than your sisters? Speak." Her reply is not best calculated to please him: "Nothing my Lord" (1:1:84-85). Cordelia's inability (or unwillingness) to join with her sisters in this charade so angers Lear that he disinherits and banishes her. His loyal servant Kent, who defends her, is also banished. Lear's power is total, and, as many commentators have noted, used unjustly. Part of this power is his ability to name effectively: his word is law. This power to name is expressed in his offer of Cordelia to the Duke of Burgundy: "Unfriended, new adopted to our hate, Dowered with our curse, and strangered with our oath" (1:1:206-207). Lear combines here the authority of the father with the (similarly regarded) authority of the King. He has already delivered the "curse" to which he refers:

Let it be so. Thy truth then be thy dower,
For by the sacred radiance of the sun,
The mysteries of Hecat, and the night,
By all the operation of the orbs,
From whom we do exist and cease to be,
Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
Propinquity and property of blood,
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee from me for ever.

Lear clearly and confidently employs language to exercise power, invoking the goddess Hecat, the sun, the night and the stars in his support. At this stage, and for the last time, Lear is in control of the world through his use of language. Over the course of the play, Lear's...

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