King Lear

Completing the Picture

Right or wrong, black or white, good or evil. Some aspect within the human psyche commands that specific and rigid classifications exist. There is a yearning to categorize every aspect, object, and experience ever encountered-once categorized, it is hard to adapt. Likewise, philosophers have long labored over questions concerning human nature: are we a race wholly separate from beasts or is our nature nothing more than bestial? Throughout Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear, specifically highlighted in one of Lear's speeches, the integrity of human nature is called into question. Although in his delusional state he attests that people are no better than beasts, cloaked in the façade of dignity, he is yet unaware of two characters that exhibit qualities that far exceed this assumption. In defying the animal instinct of self-preservation, opting instead to use reason guided by compassion, both Cordelia and Kent represent a contrast to Lear's bleak outlook on human nature. Furthermore, because they both act under pressure and thereby on pure instinct, their decisions adhere to the theory that human nature is not necessarily bestial (i.e. base and self-serving) but rather noble and loyal.

NaÃve and somewhat shallow, King...

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