King Lear

Opportunity on the Heath and the Castle-Dweller’s Fate in King Lear and Macbeth College

Shakespeare’s two plays King Lear and Macbeth take place in two contrasting settings that, from the first scenes, influence the characters’ paths and shape the course of the plays’ events. The action of both plays alternate between the settings of the harsh barren heath and the castle, where acts of malice are carried out. The heath and other natural settings are notable for being uninhabited and exposed to the severity of the elements, which are in direct contrast to the sheltered castles and palaces of the noblemen. As in many of Shakespeare’s plays, the natural exterior setting and the man-made interior architecture illuminate the inhabiting characters’ psychological states and inner motives. In addition, as the characters move in and out of each setting, they either rise to higher psychological understanding or succumb to the destructive power of their own minds. In King Lear and Macbeth, the heath serves as a ground of opportunity for the characters to gain insight into their desires and themselves as human beings, while their return to their castles always provides grim resolutions to any hope gained while out in the ruggedness.

As the site for banishment, the heath in King Lear strips the characters down to their raw...

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