King Lear Essay

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Life is Like the Stage – Be Dramatic William Shakespeare is noted for saying, “Life is like theatre”. The characters he employs in his writing, their motives and their flaws mirror both the realities of life and reflect the dramatic themes of the theatre. In examining the play King Lear, one finds that Shakespeare’s characters display elements of the stage, allowing the viewer a more realistic experience because the stage and humanity directly correlate with one another. This essay will explore three theatrical motifs as they play out in the pages of King Lear. The wearing of a mask, real or figurative, to hide or disguise one’s true feelings is a recurrent theme both in the play and in society. Life is also theatrical in that all humans have a tragic flaw which directs their destiny, and this is poignant in the characters of Lear and Gloucester. Also, there are numerous forces from within and without that will be directing peoples’ and characters’ decisions, emotions and morals. These three dramatic themes employed in the play reflect the theatre of life and vice-versa. In theatre, one of the main and most important tools is the use of masks and facial expressions to reveal or hide one’s character. In King Lear, many characters hide behind facades or “masks” to conceal their true selves, whether it is beneficial for others or their own gain. Lear’s daughter Goneril hides her distaste for her father, putting up a front of compassion and love to inherit his fortunes. To earn their respective dowries, Lear asks his daughters to profess their undying love for him. Goneril slyly proclaims, “Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter” (1.1.55). In saying this, Goneril does not speak the truth. Rather, Goneril grows to hate her father because he is rash and senile. Despite her professions of love, when Lear ultimately becomes her responsibility, she no

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