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Essay about bottoming out (King Lear)

sarahmk 22 / 55  
Jul 3, 2008   #1
I had to write a essay on bottoming out, finding a place where there is no way to go but up. It had to refer to king lear and address these questions:

1)where is the bottom, in terms of both situation and character?
2)How can one know one has reached bottom?
3)What, if anything, is the benefit of reaching bottom?

-my intro had to explain an interpretation? Did i do it right?
-my body paragraphs deal with questions
-explains ideas and uses examples to support them

Hey, how are you? Can you please help me with this essay based on the info above. Im having a hard time with it. Thanks

Bottoming Out-i did the italics for the title "king lear" but it doesnt show when i copy the essay here. Thanks soooo much

"Rock bottom is good solid ground, and a dead end street is just a place to turn around" are the lyrics from a song sang by Buddy Buie and J.R. Cobb. There comes a point in many people's lives when they are faced with challenges so great they sometimes lose their faith and will to live. Although some may be lucky enough to have learned from people surrounding them and avoid this dreaded emotional state of dismay, others are not so lucky and succumb to the least favorable position of "bottoming out." It seems "bottoming out" can most often be affiliated with those of a lower social class, or more specifically an individual suffering from an addiction. However Shakespeare's story King Lear demonstrates the opposite, portraying a proud, notable monarchy depressed and disrupted by having experienced his life's lowest point and thus shunning the stereotype relating "bottoming out" to class.

Every individual has a different life and ultimately different life experiences. Like the unpredictability factor associated with those who will hit "rock bottom", there is also the question of how long one will dwell in the bottom of a barrel. Some may come to a quick realization of their dark situation and have what it takes to regain ground and get back the structure and order they desperately need. Yet others are less fortunate, tending to sulk and linger in their sorrows for some time before choosing to tackle their tribulations and emerging triumphant, as in the case of the characters in King Lear. In act two the King is able to conquer his pride and self-centered attitude by reaching his turning point and altering his life for the better, but not before his majesty undergoes an important transformation by encountering three particular and crucial stages. The three stages are denial, rage, and isolation and they clearly describe the upheavals presented in all those individuals throughout time, who like King Lear, have reached that sorrowful bottom.

Lear's denial is first shown to be subtle, when he refuses to acknowledge that his daughters are in the slow process of exiling him. His oblivious nature is showcased in his quote, "Tis strange that they should so depart from home without returning my messenger" (2.2.193). He denies on grounds of misunderstandings and misinterpretations, creating the allusion of irony within battles between him and his daughters. He refuses to come to terms with their loss of love and loyalty towards him. Lear "hits bottom" when he becomes victimized by his treacherous daughters Regan and Goneril: "Gentleman-"O, here he is/ Lay hand upon him/Lear-"No rescue?/ What, a prisoner?..."(4.6.184-186). It appears Lear's two daughters have captured him. This causes a feeling of total defeat. Even though Lear's character displays anguish, the gentlemen states: "You are a royal one, and we obey you" (4.6.197). This is the beginning of a slight turning point for Lear, which reflects a segment of the opening quote "A dead end street is just a place to turn around." Even though Lear is gradually becoming stronger, his denial continues to be profusely comparable to a person coping with an addiction like an alcoholic. Denial is always the first sign of an addiction and acknowledging and admitting you have one, or at least that there is a problem, is the first step in overcoming it. Like such is in the case of King Lear's, taking the first, necessary step to recovery, or fixing the issue at hand. There is no doubt that admittance can only come in time and with the notion that the individual is ready, willing, and wants to embrace change, which seems to only occur when that person has begun to "bottom out."

Following the unconscious stage of denial comes the rapid transition of rage.
This is drastically shown throughout the second act when King Lear's personality
changes for the worst and is overall more evident then the other two stages. Lear illustrates that he is unsure of himself which results in extreme anger. One of his impulsive outbursts is shown when he declares, "Now, presently, bid them come forth and hear me, or at the chamber door I'll beat the drum. Till it cry sleep to death" (2.2.306-308). He exhibits lack of judgment, which affects his choices and forces him to make rash decisions, resulting in him sinking lower into his state of "rock bottom." This is all similar to an addict's rage when coming to grips with reality and processing his or her downfalls they are enduring. Unable to fight their addiction and unable to comprehend the reasons behind their trials, they constantly question their worthiness and existence which can be extremely overwhelming. Their addiction amounts to defeat, and their inability to abolish their need for something so harmful creates the unsettling feelings of rage.

In an attempt to help Lear from going downhill, Kent who was treated cruelly by Lear when he was appointed power, comes to show Lear support: "Now, banished Kent, if thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemned, so may it come thy master, whom thou lov'st, shall find thee full of labors" (1.4.5-7). This demonstrates Kent's objective to disguise both his speech and his appearance in order to serve Lear. This proves that Lear is "down and out," since when one is suffering terribly; even those who they have did wrong try to console them. Lear's rage transforms into isolation, where he is able to give his journey of agony meaning.

King Lear's erratic behavior and illusive emotions cause a chaotic atmosphere that no one cared to live in, especially his daughters Regan and Goneril. Their decision to keep their distance from their father is the very reason his rage quickly transforms into the last and final stage of isolation. In King Lear's case, it was not isolation by choice, since Regan declares that not only is her father no longer welcomed into her home, but that he is banned from his own kingdom and cast away by his entire family. Lear reacts by begging and pleading to those same people who he had so recently expressed such anger and rage towards: "On my knees I beg/That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed and food" (2.2.344-345). His daughter Regan inconsiderately ignores his commands: "I looked not for you yet, nor am provided for your fit unwelcome..." (2.2.420-421). This message conveys that his majesty is now shut out from friends and family and left to fend for himself. King Lear's daughters experienced the ripple effect of dealing with an individual who has "hit rock bottom." Loved ones surrounding these helpless individuals, addicts for example, tend to implicate a form of "tough love" trying to isolate them in order for them to realize the consequences their actions have made. In some situations a person may become anti-social and retract him or herself from the world because they are thoroughly aware of their impact on others and the negativity they possess. Either consensual or not, the stage of isolation is intolerable and places these people in a harsh reality. Being placed or kept apart from others can be traumatizing and heightens ones depression causing despair in its maximum capacity.

Lear's despair allowed him to regain much of his sanity and hope that Cordelia would be able to live: "This feather stirs/She lives/f it be so/It is chance which he does redeem all sorrows/ That ever I have felt" (5.3.262-265). Cordelia embodies Lear's ultimate power, so when she passes away, part of Lear dies with her. By Lear dying, it symbolizes how Lear couldn't grip the injustice of Cornelia's death. Lear was rescued from "hitting rock bottom," since he was able to secure his troubled relationship with Cordelia. Lear's path of misery and suffering led him to be able to rebuild a love that he lost for his one faithful daughter Cordelia.

It seems in this story a King's constant lack of sincerity brought about his demise. Although he was able to recuperate at one point, the tail ends with a grim conclusion to "hitting rock bottom" when Lear passes away. This is sadly relative to many people unable to break free of the throws of addiction or other forms of "bottomingout." In the King's case, despite gaining ground and rediscovering a light at the end of the tunnel, he passes away shortly after his third daughter, Cordelia, does. Fortunately, most cases of people reaching their lowest points do not always come to a bitter end as exhibited in the case of Cordelia. According to Athealth.com, more than 40,000 Americans die annually from suicide, caused by depression. Some individuals are able to control their problems, well others hit rock bottom, and fell hopeless. When Cordelia was disowned and banished by her father she too experiences denial, rage, and then isolation but with her abandonment she did not surrender and subsequently conformed her negatives to positives. With her yearn for change and a newfound outlook, she initiated growth and was emancipated. She also demonstrated forgiveness towards the one, her father, who initially caused her pain.

"Bottoming out" is essential to recovery because extreme suffering is a powerful healer. When you live comfortably with no cares, you sometimes lose your incentive to improve your life. Some have the strength to fight back out of the bottom, while others cannot be rescued from a dark place that claims their lives. "Hitting rock bottom" can alter one's mentality and give one a kick in the right direction. When one reaches bottom, one reaches a turning point and have nowhere to go but up. Having nothing to lose gives rise to achieving one's dreams by transforming misery into wisdom and happiness. Lear wasn't necessarily rescued from getting to rock bottom, since he was already there. Even though Lear died he was able to make a mends with his one loyal daughter, Cordelia, allowing him to find a sense of peace, rescuing him from the bottom so that it didn't claim his life as well.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William, and R.A. Foakes. King Lear. Croatia: The Arden Shakespeare, 1997.
EF_Team5 - / 1,586  
Jul 30, 2008   #2
Good morning.

OK, here's what I see:

"...who will hit "rock bottom," ..."
Punctuation generally is included inside quotation marks.

"...Regan and Goneril: "Gentleman-O, here he is/ Lay hand upon him/Lear-No rescue?/ What, a prisoner?..."(4.6.184-186). It ..."
Only one set of quotation marks per citation, unless you are quoting what another said inside your quote. If that is the case, it should be formatted as thus:

"...Regan and Goneril: "' Gentleman-O, here he is/ Lay hand upon him/Lear-No rescue?/ What, a prisoner?' ..."(4.6.184-186). It..."

"...quote, "A dead end street..."

"Like such is in the case of King Lear taking the first (Remove comma) necessary step to recovery, or fixing the issue at hand."

This sentence still bothers me a little...

"...when he declares (Remove comma) "Now, presently..."

""This feather stirs/She lives/I f it be so/It is chance which he does redeem all sorrows/ That ever I have felt" (5.3.262-265)."

"...of "bottoming out ." In..."

I like your closing paragraph much better, and your citation really enhanced your assertion about how many people don't make it. Your essay has come a long way. Great work!

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