When I first start to consider King Lear as an overwhelmingly gloomy play, I begin to wonder as to why Shakespeare would write such a thing? Is it that he was expressing what ever pain, grief or anguish that was happening in his life at that time ? Was it a ventilation exercise? Could a presumably less exaggerated event happened in his life? Deception or betrayal by a love one could seem pretty plausible ! Whichever the case, he did manage to compose a play of incredible gloom and there are plenty of viable situations to back that up.
For instance, to start at the end. Lear dies on top of his daughter Cordelia , who died mere minutes before he does.Whilst in mourning, along with everything else that had happened previously to him in the play ( which I will get to later on ), to end on such a note is one of the most catastrophic endings I have read. To make the reader even more sympathetic and full of emotion, Lear’s last words before he dies are “ look there, look there! “ referring to what he thinks are Cordelia’s lips beginning to move again with life just before he loses his. This here brings up the question of Lear’s character and whether or not he is a ‘Tragic Hero’ , did his suffering redeem him?
This play is as emotionally tragic as it is savagely insufferable for those in it. There is such a great deal of suffering, physically and mentally that almost all characters go through. In act 3 scene 7 Cornwall knows that he cannot take Gloucester’s life but he can brutally torture him. He ties him up like a thief, insults him and plucks his white beard. Admitting that he helped Lear escape, Gloucester swears that he will see Lear’s wrongs avenged. Cornwall replies, “See’t shalt thou never,” and proceeds to dig out one of Gloucester’s eyes, throw it on the floor, and step on it ,Gloucester screams, and Regan demands that Cornwall put out the other eye too as one might “ mock another “, as the scene then goes on with one of Gloucester’s servants…