King Lear

The Good, the Bad, and the Perfect

Two English literary works, one a comedy and the other a tragedy, by two different authors of separate centuries, both have their fair share of characters who illustrate the admirable and the not-so-admirable of dispositions. Jane Austen's socially satirical novel Pride and Prejudice from 1813 and William Shakespeare's poetic poem King Lear from 1606 match each other very closely in the context of how good character reveals itself. In each piece, the authors present readers with a contrast between the wonderful and the terrible and act as puppet masters in the competition for the common object of desire; the "prizes" for Shakespeare's dramatic characters are power and riches, and while Austen's characters also aspire to possess affluence, their primary concern is high regard from others. In terms of Pride and Prejudice, all unfavorable characters commit different offenses against amiability in their quests for a flattering reputation, but Austen manipulates their actions so that each comes off as being an extrovert. Similar terms apply to King Lear in that Shakespeare's disgraceful characters act grandiosely and employ dishonesty in attempts toward prosperity.

As Pride and Prejudice's villain in...

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