Elements of Tragedy in King Lear
One Work Cited King Lear meets all the requirements of a tragedy as defined by Andrew Cecil Bradley. Bradley states that a Shakespearean tragedy has to be the story of the hero who endures exceptional suffering and calamity. The story must also contrast the current dilemma to happier times. The play also depicts the troubled parts in the hero’s life and eventually he dies instantaneously because of the suffering and calamity. There is the feeling of fear in the play as well, that makes men see how blind they are not knowing when fortune or something else would be on them. The hero must be of a high status on the chain and the hero must also possess a tragic flaw that initiates the tragedy. The fall of the hero is not felt by him alone but creates a chain reaction that affects everything below him. There must also be the element of chance or accident that influences some point in the play. King Lear meets all of these requirements, which have been laid out by Bradley.
The main character of the play would be King Lear who in terms of Bradley would be the hero and hold the highest position is the social chain. Lear, out of pride and anger, has banished Cordelia and split the kingdom in half between the two older sisters, Goneril and Regan. This is Lear’s tragic flaw that prevents him from seeing the true faces of people because his pride and anger overrides his judgement. As we see in the first act, Lear does not listen to Kent’s plea to see closer to the true faces of his daughters. Kent has hurt Lear’s pride by disobeying his order to stay out of his and Cordelia’s way when Lear has already warned him, “the bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft” (I.i.152). Kent still disobeys Lear and is banished. Because of this flaw, Lear has initiated the tragedy by disturbing the order in the chain of being by dividing the kingdom, banishing his best servant and daughter, and giving up his thrown.
Due to this flaw, Lear has given way to the two older daughters to conspire against him. Lear is finally thrown out of his daughters’ homes and left with a fool, a servant and a beggar.