Order, Chaos, and Climax In King Lear
A recurring theme throughout William Shakespeare's King Lear is the perpetual struggle between order and chaos, played out in the arena of human existence. While such characters as Lear, Cordelia, Albany and Edgar try to impose their sense of divine and moral order on the muddled world around them, the insubordination of Goneril, Regan and Edmund serves to undermine these attempts, leading inexorably towards a catastrophic climax in the play's final scene. Interestingly, the play does not follow a straight downwards path from order to chaos; rather, it acts somewhat like a roller coaster, enduring a fall when Goneril, Regan and Edmund usurp the throne, then a slow ascension as all three die in the final scene, and finally a sharp drop after the central moment in the text: Cordelia's death. As a playwright, Shakespeare knew that his work was meant to be performed, and this structure allows for the most emotional response from the audience. Instead of a gradual decline in order, which would have given the audience time to prepare themselves for the coming chaos, Shakespeare offers us a building sense of hope that suddenly crumbles into despair. Thus, the very structure of the play reflects the disorderliness that...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 776 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 5319 literature essays, 1600 sample college application essays, 204 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in