Chaos In King Lear Essay

This essay has a total of 962 words and 6 pages.

Chaos In King Lear


A device which Shakespeare often utilized to convey the confusion and chaos within the
plot of his plays, is the reflection of that confusion and chaos in the natural
environment of the setting, along with supernatural anomalies and animal imageries. In
King Lear, these devices are used to communicate the plot, which is summarized by
Gloucester as:


…This villain
of mine comes under the prediction: there's son
against father. The King falls from bias of nature:
there's father against child.
(Act 1, Sc.1, 115 - 118)

The 'bias of nature'; is defined as the natural inclination of the world. Throughout the
play King Lear, the unnatural inclination of nature, supernatural properties and animal
imageries are used by Shakespeare to illustrate the chaotic state of England, which was
caused by the treacheries of the evil characters.


Gloucester is a character in the play who firmly believed that man's fate has supernatural
properties that are controlled or reflected by the heaven and stars:

These late eclipses in the sun and moon
Portend us to no good. Though the wisdom of
nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds
itself scourged by the sequent events.
(Act 1, Sc. 2, 109 - 113)

This is proclaimed by Gloucester as he is told by Edmund of Edgar's supposedly treacherous
plot to remove him from power. Gloucester's trust in Edgar faltered as a result of Lear's
irrational banishment of Cordelia and Kent, coupled with recent anomalies in the heavens.
Gloucester believed that Lear's actions also came as a result of the star's unusual
behaviour. Edmund, the treacherous and bastard son of Gloucester, exploits Gloucester's
blind believe in the stars in his plot to oust Edgar out of the inheritance and ultimately
to gain all of Gloucester's wealth and land:


This is the excellent foppery of the world, that
when we are sick in fortune (often the surfeits of
the sun, the moon, and stars, as if we were villains
on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves,
thieves, and treacherous by spherical predominance;
drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced
obedience of planetary influence; and all that we
are evil in, by a divine thrusting on.
(Act 1. Sc. 2, 125 - 133)

As a result of the irrational acts of trust by Lear and Gloucester, the state of England
crumbled due to corruptness and treachery of Regan, Goneril and Edmund. At the point of
ultimate chaos, Lear is disdained by his two evil daughters and has none of the power and
honour of his kingship, and the state of nature reflects this chaos in the form of a
tumultuous storm:


Blow winds and crack you cheeks! Rage, blow!

Crack nature's molds, all germens spill at once
That makes ingrateful man.
(Act 3, Sc. 2, 1 - 11)

This is evident that the chaotic state of the plot is reflected by the chaotic state of
nature. This storm also enters the play at a point where Lear can be observed as near
madness in his mental state. Lear's unstable emotions causes him to remain in the rain,
even as Kent has found a place of shelter:
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