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King Lear Essay

Autor:   •  March 13, 2018  •  1,011 Words (5 Pages)  •  85 Views

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Though the audience possesses a significantly higher amount of knowledge than characters like King Lear, the Fool is an exception to this stratification as he is recognized as the most intelligent character of the play, proven through several lines that imply his higher level of knowledge. As previously stated, the Fool recognizes that after he gives away his crown and power “Lear’s shadow” is all that is left (1273). Throughout the play, the fool continuously recognizes the truth behind events that King Lear does not, which also allows the Fool to recognize the presence, or lack there-of, good deeds. The Fool also presents another piece of foreshadowing when he says that “winter’s not gone yet, if the wild-geese fly that way”, meaning that things will continue to get worse before they get better (1286). The Fool’s intelligence through out the course of the play opposes the notion that the audience possesses more knowledge than the characters.

The final dividing component between audience and character knowledge in Shakespeare’s, King Lear, is dramatic irony. Late in the play, after Gloucester’s eyes have been gouged out, he encounters Edgar in disguise. When Gloucester asks to be led to the edge of a cliff “whose high and bending head/ Looks fearfully into the confined deep”, Edgar produces a play to save his father’s life (1311). Edgar convinces Gloucester that he has, indeed, fallen from the cliff and that “[his] life’s a miracle” (1319). Through dramatic irony, the audience understands that Edgar saved Gloucester by tricking him with his play; The knowledge the audience possesses that Gloucester does not, aides in the understanding that the true miracle is not that Gloucester survived falling off a cliff, but is in fact, Edgar’s kindness. This knowledge allows the audience to recognize that Edgar saving Gloucester was a good deed, and furthermore, allows the audience to recognize its importance which is not understood by Gloucester due to his lack of knowledge.

The importance of good deeds throughout William Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear, is apparent, however, stratification between audience and character knowledge is arguably more important. Through the manipulation of language, several accounts of foreshadowing, and dramatic irony, Shakespeare stratifies audience and character knowledge leading the two categories to different levels of understanding of good deeds throughout the play. The previously listed literary devices used by Shakespeare provide the audience with knowledge that is, otherwise, withheld from characters such as King Lear and Gloucester, allowing the audience to recognize good deeds before and in different ways than the characters do. The role that knowledge plays in the recognition and understanding of good deeds is proven important and impactful through Shakespeare’s use of literary devices including manipulation of language, foreshadowing, and dramatic irony.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. "King Lear." 2012. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. James Simpson and Alfred David. 9th ed. Vol. B. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2012. 1254-1339. Print. The 16th Century/The Early 17th Century.


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