King Lear: Good and Evil

how are the forces of evil unleashed in both plays?is Lear responsible? arguably his decision was fair enoughambiguity over morals- does Cordelia act in a good/evil way in the beginning? NOTES: both plays- evil unleashed- both plays deal with tension between good and evil BUT NOT CLEAR CUTa04: fallen world- Lear is part of a fallen creation- oedipus- marked out for suffering since the day you were bornBoth plays PROBLEMATISE good and evil- there are characters which we cannot firmly put in a box- is morality human construct– Lear doesn’t intend to be evil- do R and G have a point- Cordelia, in trying to be truthful- stubborn??- Edmond- evil? but just trying to mobilise – Oedipus- unaware that he has committed evil- committed evil acts unknowingly and yet still punished- TRAGEDY- is the evil that happens just in both consequences
EVIL points 1) both plays- what releases evil?oswaldthe clear excess of evil in the play- Goneril and Reagan- blinding of G- what releases this evil- Lear reneging authority- unleashes evil- selfish and proud court presented as corrupt- flattery thrives- this is how gonerill and R- Gloucester- “machinations, hollowness and treachery follow us disquietly to our graves”- Oedipus- tension of human agency and fate- christian interpretation- fallen man – modern audeince- suffering- heart of tragedy- why do bad things happen2) but both lear and oedipus are not evil characters – Lear’s actions allow the evil in other characters to thrive – Gloucester’s lechery 3) morals are subjective- G’s lechery- viewed less of a sin- role of religion- immoral to disrupt hierarchy Oedipus- hierarchy disturbed- kills mother marries his mother- unleashes evil- taboo – sense that Lear has betrayed his position in the divine right of kings4) journey of catharsis and purification however, as Lear becomes more compassionate “poor naked wretches”- forgives Cordelia”undo excess”- redemption????5) existentialist- any morals at all- “none can offend” “let copulation thrive”- they all die
GOOD- points 1) lear presents us with problem with goodness- moral charactersKent- loyal, faithful- straightforwardly good- BUT- his undiscriminating loyalty- suggestively takes his own life? served lear- will serve no other – Kent’s character- unrewarded- exhaustive goodness? Cordelia- truthful but exposes Lear’s weaknessproblem- goodness is not awardedBUT- Cordelia- arguably stubborn- “no more or no less”- excessiveproblem- how goodness finds a voice in a corrupt worldOedipus- people save oedipus- the shepard- good actbut it unleashes evilthe power of the gods- ruthlessALBANY AND EDGAR’S GOODNESSproblematic- Edgar’s desguise- uses it to save his father Edgar’s aside at dover- its not as simple- goodness has to go in disguise- has to be indirectplain language- in an ideal world- would be fine- but it is not an ideal worldThe fool- loyal, insightful BUT commentator- no agency- represents a poets perspective- not helping lear- choric function- contributes towards insight- but Lear doesn’t listenthe servants albany’s journey- moves from one side to the other- does he go under a conversion or is it political opportunism Gonerill calls him a “milk-livered man”how confident do we feel in edgar and albany’s leadership at the end?play exposes a world where the good sometimes offer unnecessarily Oedipus- harsh world- human goodness isn’t awarded- nihilistic no evil characters in king lear- all people trying their best- some misguided justice restored in oedipus- but so much suffering- conflict between good and evilgood and evil co-exist- suffering- question uneasy reconciliation at end of learwe can’t take either the christian, redemption interpretation or the nihilistic at face valueto take nihilistic- would overlook how both plays affirm the human spirit and humanityproblem of cordelia’s death?- the good suffer source texts- Lear restored to his throne- shakespeare presents us with a passing of an order- challenging an order as a political play- if Lear is restored to the throne it affirms the old order- authority- whereas Shakespeare sees lEAR TURN To a new man the prophetic words of Edgar’s last lines- civil war to followtension between the feudal, hierarchal society and the Machiavellian society