Why Not Weep for a Tragedy?

In King Lear, Shakespeare characterizes Lear as a prideful King and Father who is losing power as he is getting older. There are many struggles in the story between people, oneself, a person and nature, and nation to nation. The most intriguing struggle is Lear’s internal battle of trying to accept his age and losing his power of being King, while trying to keep the title and respect as father and King, because it expresses the difficulty of having something for so long just to lose it.

At the end of Act II, when both Goneril and Regan refused to allow their father to stay with them along with his hundred knights, Lear argues that he may not need the knights but as King and father he should be allowed to take them as protection. After their denial, Lear claims they have betrayed him, “I have full case of weeping, but this heart shall break into a hundred thousand flaws or ere I’ll weep. – O Fool, I shall go mad!” (II, 4, 117). Lear’s internal conflict of wanting power or or wanting love and respect has cost him the respect of his daughters as their father, and the respect of the kingdom as their leader. He has essentially lost everything, because he wanted too much. Lear is then left with his title, with no power, and the clothes on his back. He will not be upset about everything that he just lost, but trying to keep the respect and role as King is becoming so difficult for Lear that his mind is spinning in circles. To a man who was not a father and held no title, accepting that he was not powerful or had children would be easy like any other day, however having known the power and respect as King and father it is considered a great loss.

Image result for image of heart shattering like glass

One thought on “Why Not Weep for a Tragedy?

  1. Willa S

    I totally agree with this! I think Lear’s internal struggle is really interesting, it takes the phrase “at war with yourself” to a whole other level. I feel like his insanity is just him fighting himself in his own brain. He’s also feeling a lot of emotions and vulnerability but because of his masculinity, he feels pressure to be invulnerable and strong.


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