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Disruption of Order in King Lear and the Causes

Uploaded by hvellani on Jul 05, 2000

Disorder in the Court

"Order from disorder sprung." (Paradise Lost)

A [kingdom] without order is a [kingdom] in chaos ( In Shakespeare's tragic play, King Lear, the audience witnesses to the devastation of a great kingdom. Disorder engulfs the land once Lear transfers his power to his daughters, but as the great American writer, A.C. Bradley said, “The ultimate power in the tragic world is a moral order” (Shakespearean Tragedy). By examining the concept of order versus disorder in the setting, plot, and the character King Lear, Bradley’s idea of moral order is clearly demonstrated by the outcome of the play.

"By removing a ‘degree’ or not acting according to the ‘natural’ social order, disorder and disharmony in the whole of the universe are inevitable" (Sarah Doncaster). Bradley’s idea of moral order is evident from the setting of the play. An excellent example from the play would be that of the storms. By using the technique of pathetic fallacy, Shakespeare creates a storm raging in the sky to reflect the storm raging inside of Lear. Upon the heath, Shakespeare intertwines this idea of disorder in the universe and disorder within Lear. King Lear says,

Rumble they bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind thunder, fire, are my daughter:
I tax you not, you elements, with unkindness;
I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children...
(3, ii, 14-17)

Lear's feelings in this passage parallel the disorder of the storm. To bring order to the universe, Lear must start by bringing order to himself. This occurs when he becomes lawful and puts his daughters on trial. Soon after, Lear says, "When the rain came to wet me once and the wind to / make me chatter, when the thunder would not peace / at my bidding, there I found ‘em, there I smelt ‘em out" (4, vi, 100-102). Here, Lear explains how the “storm” actually helped him “see” the truth. Soon after this event occurs, the storm is no where to be found. Lear purges himself of his inner rage and thus calms both the inner storm and the storm raging on earth, and thus bringing order to the universe. This parallelism between the setting and the character bring out the idea that Bradley was trying to get across, that is, moral order will prevail.

“Let us understand that the ultimate power or order is 'moral' to mean that it does not show itself indifferent to good and evil,...

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Uploaded by:   hvellani

Date:   07/05/2000

Category:   King Lear

Length:   6 pages (1,286 words)

Views:   2779

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