Kign Lear





King Lear is a tragic playwritten by William Shakespeare. It is a play about the suffering of two families that are caught in a struggle of greed, lust, and cruelty which eventually results in extreme amounts of pain and destruction for all the characters. In King Lear, there is a circular relationship between the characters’ behavior and nature. That is, the destruction of the two families results from human behavior breaking accepted laws of nature, and the disturbances in nature result from the disturbances in human behavior. Shakespeare portrays this theme by demonstrating the damage Lear and Edmund create when they break the laws of nature, and of course, nature itself in the form of the storm in King Lear.
The idea of nature is first introduces by Cordelia in the very beginning of the play. When Lear asks Cordelia to tell him how much she loves him, Cordelia responds by saying that she loves him “acoording to my bond.” (1.1.102) Cordelia mean that her love for her father is based upon the laws of nature and involobes the clearest recognition of her filial obligations. It is this law which Lear himslef depends on when he expects to be revered and obeyed both as a king and as a father by all his daughters. Shakespeare demonstrates this idea when he points out that at a later point in the play, after Lear is treated horribly by Goneril, Lear expressed his conviction that Regan, unlike Goneril, knows better “the offices of nature, bond of childhood.” (2.4.202) It is ironic that here Lear uses the exact same word as Cordelia has used before, that is, “bond” to describe the natural ties that he himslef broke before only to expect that they would be followed by his daughter, Regan when he is in a time of need.
However, Lear does not understand what Cordelia means when she says this, and is very upset as a consequence. At this point Lear destroys his natural family ties to Cordelia by breaking off her connections to his family. Here I disclaim all my paternal care, and property of blood. (1.1.125-6). Lear looks at the love between a father and daughter as an immutable legal bond rather than a natural bond of love. At a later point in the play, Lear finds that all that he has conceived to be natural is becoming unnatural; specifially, his daughter no longer acknowledge the filia duty and respect. Lear himself realizes that his sufferings is due to the fact that he has mistreated Cordelia, and by that, broke that codes of nature: O most small fault/How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show/Which, like an engine, wrenched my frame of nature from the fixed place. (1.4.278-81) Lear is basically admitting to the fact that he has distorted and twisted his fate by breaking the natural family bonds between him and Cordelia. Lear’s rashed actions represent a great violation of the law of nature, which from that point will lead to disrder and disaster throughout the entire play, and eventually the destruction and death of Lear’s family.
The second family that is discussed in King Lear is Gloucester’s family. In this family it is Edmund, Gloucester’s illegitimate son who commits actions that disturb nature, and as a consequence, ruin himself and his entire family. Edmund’s self-revealing soliloquy at that beginning of 1.2 reflects his views and opinions about the accepted laws of nature. Edmund rejects moral law and endorses the law of the jungle. This is pointed out by the fact that Edmund starts his solilquy by invoking the goddess of nature: Thou, Nature, art my goddess. (1.2.1) but Edmund’s final words are Now, gods, stand up for bastards! (1.2.23) It is a well known fact that at the time King Lear was written, bastards were not considered to acepted under the natural laws of society, hence, one can conclude that the goddess of nature whom he invokes does not represent the traditional nature, which he refres to as the dull, stale, tired bed. (1.2.14) but animal vitality alone, which he refers to as the lusty stealth of nature. (1.2.12). Edmund views the accpeted laws of society as the plague of custom and the curiosity of nations (1.2.3-4) which means he sees the natural law as