Absent Mother Trope In King Lear

760 words - 4 pages

In this essay, I intend to scrutinize a brief etymology of the word issue, using the Oxford English Dictionary. My goal is to provide alternative interpretations to the following line from King Lear, spoken by Kent: “I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it/ being so proper” (1.1.16). The fault, or offense, Kent mentions is the illegitimate birth of Edmund. I then argue that alternative interpretations, derived from various resonances of the word issue, prove Shakespeare’s deliberate word choice to set up the play as a tragedy of masculinity, wherein the absence of a maternal figure causes a lack of counterbalance to male authority.
Kent refers to Edmund himself as an “issue” (1.1.16). Here, issue retains its third Oxford English Dictionary definition (see in-text notation) meaning (3) (formal or Law) children of one’s own. Though illegitimate, Edmund is Gloucester’s own son. Other senses of the word issue include: (1) an important topic or problem for debate or discussion, (2) the action of supplying or distributing an item for use, sale, or official purposes, (4) (Middle English, from Old French) the action of flowing or coming out, and (5) (dated) a result or outcome of something (“Issue”). Combining some of these definitions gives us alternative interpretations to what Kent is saying in the aforementioned quote.
Firstly, the chief sense of the word issue, (1) an important topic or problem for debate or discussion, coupled with (3) and (5) above, provides one such interpretation: the child itself, i.e., Edmund, will be a problem for the parent. King Lear has three examples of children playing the part of doting loved ones but doubling as their parents’ real troubles. All three children – Edmund, Goneril, and Regan – are regarded as “proper,” or outwardly good-looking and comely, deceiving most onlookers of their concealed, inner evils (1.1.17). Goneril and Regan flatter Lear with matched outpourings of affectations – Goneril saying, “I love you more than the world can yield matter” – in stealthy efforts to undermine their father and retrieve power and authority (1.1.55). This duplicity of character is elucidated (and foreshadowed by Kent) through multiple innuendos being buried within the word issue. Children rebelling against...

Find Another Essay On Absent Mother Trope in King Lear

Fate in "King Lear" Essay

1223 words - 5 pages FateIn the play King Lear fate decides where each person will go, how they live and how they die. Each character in the play believes in god or a higher power that is responsible for the good and unfortunate events in their lives. Fate places situations on each of them and it is up to the characters to decide how they will play out the situation. Each character blames the gods for their ill fortunes and complicated lives. When one lives under

Values In King Lear Essay

1293 words - 6 pages King Lear can be valued in different ways and for different reasons. The story of King Lear encompasses many different ideas and themes pertaining to the central and sub plots. Whilst there are many different ways of reading Shakespeare's King Lear there are three prevalent readings in which to observe the main idea's put across. These readings are a family reading, a nihilistic reading and a Christian reading. There are three main scenes

Blindness in King Lear

854 words - 4 pages The play, King Lear, considered to be one of William Shakespeare’s best works, is a tragedy that focuses on the theme of blindness. In the play, the word blindness, defined as the inability to physically see, is used as a metaphor for understanding and self-awareness. Blindness presents itself through the actions of King Lear, Gloucester, and Albany. Throughout the play, King Lear is shown to be the most blind of all. Lear first shows an act of

Kingship In "King Lear"

1548 words - 6 pages Goneril and Regan demonstrate, turn increasingly to deception, treachery, and violence as a method of government. Does Shakespeare's depiction of King Lear offer the audience a portrait of kingship, or in contrast, a portrait of kingly loss?In his first scene, Lear initially comes across as a strong ruler, although his plan to divide his kingdom among his three daughters seems rather short-sighted and self-serving. This decision places his two

Deception in King Lear

5089 words - 20 pages The Deception in King LearWilliam Shakespeare's play King Lear is a play full of deceit, betrayal and meaningless promises. This becomes evident in the first few lines. We first learn of the empty words of Goneril and Regan as well as their hatred for their father, King Lear. This becomes the center of the play and also leads to the madness that the king suffers from.The first words that Goneril speaks are totally empty and are the complete

Tragedies in King Lear

884 words - 4 pages "The theme of King Lear may be stated in psychological as well asbiological terms. So put, it is the destructive, the ultimatelysuicidal character of unregulated passion, its power to carryhuman nature back to chaos....The predestined end of unmastered passion is the suicide of thespecies. That is the gospel according to King Lear. The playis in no small measure an actual representation of that process.The murder-suicide of Regan-Goneril is an

Transformations in King Lear

1239 words - 5 pages Through King Lear, what idea(s) does Shakespeare advance regarding the experience of transformation? Regardless of time or place, we are all beings of change. Humanity is not unchanging, people are not static, and our experiences, whether we will them to or not, will always affect us in some way. In the tragedy of King Lear, this very thought is unmistakably apparent, for countless characters undergo transformations. Whether large or small, from

Justice in King Lear

1434 words - 6 pages Many themes are evident in King Lear, but perhaps one of themost prevalent relates to the theme of justice. Shakespeare hasdeveloped a tragedy that allows us to see man's decent intochaos. Although Lear is perceived as 'a man more sinned againstthan sinning' (p.62), the treatment of the main charactersencourages the reader to reflect on the presence or lack ofjustice in this world. The characters also vary in theirinclination to view the world

Loyalty in "King Lear"

1139 words - 5 pages loyalties in fact do not lie with King Lear but to her own moralistic views. She displays these views right form the beginning of the play when she openly refused to shower her father with loving words. “ Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave/ My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty/ According to my bond, no more nor less.” (1.1.96-98). This is really quite pathetic, as a person who has always shown her love to her father, she choose this day to

Transformation of Lear in Shakespeare's King Lear

1714 words - 7 pages King Lear is a Shakespearian tragedy revolving largely around one central theme, personal transformation. Shakespeare shows in King Lear that the main characters of the play experience a transformative phase, where they are greatly changed through their suffering. Through the course of the play Lear is the most transformed of all the characters. He goes through seven major stages of transformation on his way to becoming an omniscient character

Biblical Influences In King Lear

1054 words - 4 pages On the surface, King Lear is a pagan play, as it is set in pre-Christian England. But it has, for all that, no shortage of appeals to deity and interesting speculation. This is, after all, a play set on the brink of eternity and it must make us wonder on the universe in relationship to the characters and ourselves. However, I believe that, although set in pre-Christian times, Shakespeare's King Lear provided myriad allusions to Christian themes

Similar Essays

Blindness In King Lear Essay

980 words - 4 pages Blindness is one of the main themes in King Lear and is a recurring trait that is by several characters in the play. Blindness is represented literally, with Gloucester, and figuratively, with King Lear, in the play. In King Lear, Lear himself undergoes several shocking and unpleasant experiences due to his own figurative blindness. These experiences include his daughters, Goneril and Regan, treating him with disrespect and being locked out in

Form In King Lear Essay

1244 words - 5 pages Artistic Form in King LearKing Lear has remained one of Shakespeare's best works, and one of the best tragedies of all time, since the beginning of the 17th century; however, some early critics believe that certain elements of the story do not satisfy the criteria for a proper tragedy. The two plot elements under speculation are the subplot and the catastrophic ending. The primary focus of the story is set on the elderly King Lear, whose pride

Humanity In King Lear Essay

1088 words - 4 pages Humanity in King Lear The play King Lear was written in the early sixteen hundreds by William Shakespeare. Despite its age, King Lear is nevertheless a powerful tragedy, which uses many theatrical effects to portray the essence of what it means to be human. Since Lear's characteristics are authoritarian, arrogant and self-centred, Shakespeare displays to the audience what it is like to be human. Since Lear has these characteristics, he banishes

Love In King Lear Essay

1044 words - 5 pages often known to write about the many rewards and dangers of loves in his works, a great example of this can be seen in one of his most well-known plays called King Lear. King Lear is about an aging British king who divides his kingdom between two out of his three daughters based on their flattery, the kings early retirement causes tragic consequences for every character. Throughout the play almost all of the characters, including King Lear, suffers