I was re-reading Kentaro Miura’s amazing series Berserk (read it), a masterwork of tragedy and drama comparative to King Lear. During my second reading I began to realize more clearly that the threads of tragedy which culminated in the climax have been slowly wound together throughout the entire series.
This got me thinking about Shakespearean tragedies, to what extent were the fates of Lear or Hamlet determined from the start? To what extent was Lear’s fate determined by his character?
Hamlet’s situation can more easily be simplified: Hamlet was too fickle. Therefore, when an important situation demands initiative Hamlet was unable to act, eventually forcing him into an unavoidable and dangerous situation. I might not have had to turn out the way it did, but a climax had to come for Hamlet, whether he liked it or not.
Lear’s “fatal trait” is harder to pin down, would it be his blindness to the designs around him? Would it have been his mad decisions? Could it simply be that he had too much power for his character?
Would Lear have still experienced tragedy without Regan or Goneril?
I firmly believe yes. What comes up must go down, and Lear was up too high for too long. While the tragedy of Hamlet required a grave situation, Lear created his grave situation by disowning Cordelia, thus opening up the throne for the taking. Even if one left an old Lear to his own devices, he would slip up eventually and the paper castle of loyalty that he had built up around him would fall.
What do you think?