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Critical Response 1

Sarah Doncaster

According to Sarah Doncaster in her critical analysis, she argues that Nature in all of the contexts discovered in King Lear is a socially constructed apprehension, utilized in order to legitimize the existing social order.   Doncaster exemplifies that the way the ‘The Great Chain of Beings’ was created, was not through nature but through a social hierarchy and that during Shakespearean times everything had a certain status and purpose and the fundamental principle of this universe was with order, with God in the highest position of his hierarchy in both the microcosm and macrocosm. An important concept to grasp when examining the idea of nature being utilized to maintain the status quo is the belief in the social order stemming form the natural order. Once the concept of correlation between man’s nature and the natural world is understood in terms of legitimizing the social order, it becomes easier to contextualize the actions of Lear with constant innuendo to nature.

Stemming from Lear’s attempt to subvert the natural social order by abdicating his crown to his daughter is the Tragedy of King Lear. During the first scene, Lear proclaims his ambitions to divide his kingdom and “to shake all cares and business from our age’ in order to “unburdened crawl towards death” to ensure “that future strife/May be prevented now”. Doncaster believes this statement to be highly ironic in light of the catastrophic events that follow. Disaster in corresponding hierarchies follows once disorder is commenced by Lear’s abdication of his throne. In Lear’s decision to relinquish his rights and power as King, he opposes the concept of the Divine Right of Kings. According to the laws of nature, which Sarah has proposed to be socially constructed, it was impossible for Lear to stop being king as it was his rightful position through divine ordination.

“The natural social order can also be seen in terms of power relation between characters:...

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