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King Lear- Destruction of the Old Order


dani21 2 / 5  
Mar 15, 2012   #1
Write and argumentative essay on the destruction of the old order-personal, familial, social, natural and divine-in Act I of King Lear.

This is what i have come up with im just looking for pointers on how to improve it and making sure that there is no errors in format, puncuation or grammer.

also! any ideas on how to come up with a lead and concluding statement, they must connect in someway.

Lead* In Shakespeare's tragedy, King Lear, destruction of the old, personal, familial, social, natural and divine orders is evident in the king's verdict to divide his kingdom by handing down his power to a younger generation. First, Regan and Goneril's inheritance of power forebodes Lear's deterioration revealing a destruction of personal old orders. Secondly, Lear's rejection of his daughter Cordelia produces familial disorders. Thirdly, Regan and Goneril's inheritance of the king's authority results in a social anarchy. Fourth, the treatment Lear receives from his daughters as well as Lear's rageful reactions exhibits a natural disorder. Finally, Lear handing down his authority prior to his demise is a prime illustration of destruction within the old order of divinity. Overall, there is a vast destruction of old orders as a result of Lear's decision to retire from his duties as king.

A destruction of old personal orders becomes evident when Lear hands down his power to those who are plotting against him. Regan and Goneril reveal their true intentions to the audience. "Pray you, let's sit together. If our father carry authority with such dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us" (I.i.303-307). Regan and Goneril only care for their inheritance and plan to destroy their father. Shakespeare's use of dramatic irony allows the audience to foresee the king blindly lead himself to his downfall. Not being able to see past though their manipulative conduct Lear delegates his authority to his daughters and, by doing so, is blindly heading towards his own demise. Moreover, the fool ironically speaks the truth declaring that Lear is making the wrong decisions. "Why, to put 's head in-not to give it away to his daughters and leave his horns without a case" (I.i.26-27). The fool implies that the king will be without a home after giving his power to his unworthy daughters. It is ironic that it is the fool who speaks accurately and the king is naive to the truth. Overall, it is obvious to the audience that Lear is potentially leading himself to his own downfall by handing down his power to Regan and Goneril, therefore, revealing destruction in old personal orders.

Furthermore, destruction in the old order of sociality occurs in Lear's kingdom as he passes down his kingship to those who cannot fulfill the necessary tasks that come with it. The disorder arises when Lear declares that he will dividing his kingdom up amongst his daughters, "Know that we have divided/In three our kingdom, and 'tis our fast intent/To shake all cares and business from our age,/Conferring them on younger strengths while we/Unburdened crawl toward death" (I.i.35-39). In the ways of the old order Lear, being king, holds all authority for his kingdom as a whole. By giving up his power Lear is setting up the kingdom for destruction. It is not proper for a king to hand down his authority and live a life of luxury. The destruction of the old social order is evident in Lear's choices because the society as a whole will be impaired based on the king's eccentric decision of splitting the monarchy and ridding his authority.

In addition to the personal and social disruptions of the old order, a clear disorder within family dynamics also occurs. Lear ruptures familial orders by disowning his daughter Cordelia who is the only daughter who truly cares for his well being. Prior to her departure Cordelia derisively informs her sisters that she is aware of their cruel intents. "Love well our father. To your professed bosoms I commit him./But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,/I would prefer him to a better place" (1.1.273-275). Cordelia is aware of her sister's intentions and has troubles leaving her father in their hands. In seeing their vindictive plan a tension arises between Cordelia and her sisters, Regan and Goneril, making the family bonds capable for destruction. Shakespeare's use of dramatic irony has the audience gain a strong sense of apprehension towards the devastation about to come into Lear's familial affairs as a result of Regan and Gonerils inheritance of authority.

Not only does Lear's abolishment of Cordelia cause familial disorders but it also causes disruptions in the old natural orders. When Cordelia does not confess her love for her father Lear instantly renounces her, "The barbarous Scythian, / Or he that makes his generation messes / To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom / Be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved, / As thou may sometime daughter" (1.1.110-22). Lear's treatment towards his daughter is against natural instinct. Lear does not display any sort of remorse for his loss. In disowning Cordelia Lear is breaking the natural order because in doing so he is severing the natural bond that a father and daughter would naturally share. Additionally, Goneril and Regan's conspiracy to usurp their father's power, authority and dignity also severs the natural order. Both Regan and Goneril only care for the inheritance they will receive from their father and not for his wellbeing. "Now by my life, /Old fools are babes again and must be used /With checks as flatteries, when they are seen abused" (1.3.19-21). There is a disruption in the natural old order in the sense that children typically revere their elderly parents and care for them in a loving manner. Likewise, elderly parents would naturally cherish their children in their retirement years as something to be proud of and as individuals they love. Need a concluding sentence tied to thesis*

In addition to the destruction of nature's old orders, a breakdown in the old order of the divine also occurs as a result of Lear's decisions. By unrightfully handing down his power, Lear ruptures old heavenly orders, "Tell me, my daughters,/(Since now we will divest us both of rule,/Interest of territory, cares of state)/Which of you shall we say doth love us most/That we our largest bounty may extend/Where nature doth with merit challenge?" (I.i.48-53). The king declares that he will grant the greatest quantity of land to the daughter who proclaims the most love for him. In Shakespeare's era it is believed that kings are appointed by god therefore, kingship is a charge that Lear does not have the right to lay down. For Lear to believe that he can divest himself of his power he is placing himself above God, thus demonstrating his hubris and destructing the old heavenly traditions.

Overall, it is Lear's unconventional proposal to separate the kingdom that ultimately causes a vast destruction of the old order in personal, social, familial natural and divine aspects. Lear sets himself up for personal destruction by putting his authority in the hands of those who have a verdict to destroy him. Social orders are destructed by the general division of the kingdom and furthermore, the affairs of state. Familial disorders arise as tensions arise between Cordelia and her sisters and evidently the new affiliation with her father. Moreover, a destruction of natural orders occurs as Lear unrightfully hands down his duty as king. Concluding sentence connects to lead leaves the reader thinkning.*
chalumeau /  
Mar 15, 2012   #2
In Shakespeare's tragedy **1), King Lear, **2)destruction of the old, personal, familial, social, natural and divine orders is evident in the king's verdict to divide his kingdom by handing down his power to a younger generation. **3)First, Regan and Goneril's inheritance of power **4)forebodes Lear's deterioration revealing a destruction of personal old orders. **5)**6) Secondly, Lear's rejection of his daughter Cordelia produces familial disorders. Thirdly, Regan and Goneril's inheritance of the king's authority results in a social anarchy. Fourth, the treatment Lear receives from his daughters as well as Lear's rageful reactions exhibits a natural disorder. Finally, Lear handing down his authority prior to his demise is a prime illustration of destruction within the old order of divinity. Overall, there is a vast destruction of old orders as a result of Lear's decision to retire from his duties as king.

1) The first comma is inappropriate here as Shakespeare has written more than one tragedy. Leave the second comma. "In Shakespeare's _____,"
2) Awkward construction. "... division of King Lear's kingdom reflects destruction of familial and monarchical order."
3) Remove "first."
4) Do you mean "produces" or "contributes to?" "Forebodes" means to prophesy or predict.
5) Remove "secondly."
6) At this point, I stop reading your introductory paragraph and think you have tried to create too many boxes here. An exercise: Pretend that King Lear took a vacation to Venice or the Bahamas. Using the characters of Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia, write him three letters. Then, have each character write a letter to another character in the play. The characters you present seem a little flat. In the play, they have more flesh and blood.

As he passes down his kingship to unworthy successors, King Lear disrupts both monarchical order and social order. Lear declares, "Know that we have divided/In three our kingdom, and 'tis our fast intent/To shake all cares and business from our age,/Conferring them on younger strengths while we/Unburdened crawl toward death" (I.i.35-39). By giving up his power, Lear is setting up the kingdom for destruction. ***Why does he divide it in three? Any allusions? What does he think about old age? How does this contrast with what his daughters think about old age?***

Lear ruptures familial orders by disowning his daughter Cordelia, whom he falsely believes to be ____. Prior to her departure, Cordelia derisively cautions her sisters, "Love well our father. To your professed bosoms I commit him./But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,/I would prefer him to a better place" (1.1.273-275). Cordelia is aware of her sisters' intentions and has trouble leaving her father in their hands. ****What does she say about being in good grace? How does it affect her?

Not only does Lear's abolishment of Cordelia cause familial disorder, but it also ____ monarchical order. *****What did Cordelia not choose to do? Lear renounces his daughter, "The barbarous Scythian, / Or he that makes his generation messes / To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom / Be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved, / As thou may sometime daughter" (1.1.110-22). ***What is a Scythian? What does he mean by "bosom?" How does the word order of "neighbored, pitied, and relieved" relate to what he's saying? I can't help but hear the similarity in sound between the words "daughter" and "doter." What do you think? Are there any other quotes where Shakespeare might have used a pun like this?***

"Now by my life, /Old fools are babes again and must be used /With checks as flatteries, when they are seen abused" (1.3.19-21). ****Try again here.

***There are no "heavenly orders" or "divine orders." I remember learning about the divine right of kings? There are ecclesiastical hierarchies and absolute monarchies.*** "Tell me, my daughters,/(Since now we will divest us both of rule,/Interest of territory, cares of state)/Which of you shall we say doth love us most/That we our largest bounty may extend/Where nature doth with merit challenge?" (I.i.48-53). The king declares that he will grant the greatest quantity of land to the daughter who proclaims the most love for him.****It is absurd almost isn't it? Do you think he's referring to inheritance rights--a family affair? If I don't give it to the eldest son, then am I to throw it up in the air for the most effeminate brown-nose to catch?****

Good point here. In Shakespeare's era, it was believed that kings were appointed by god; therefore, kingship was a charge that Lear did not have the right to lay down. By divesting himself of his power, he essentially places himself above God's charge.****You haven't proven that he has hubris. Anything else? Narcissism? Dementia? Illogical? Absurd? Illness?****

It is King Lear's unconventional proposal to separate his kingdom that ultimately destroys long-established familial and monarchical order. ***Good 1st sentence actually.

I enjoyed reading your rough draft. It is a good start. However, I feel that the explication was more of a list. How else might you organize the essay? 1) Familial disorder created by King Lear 2) familial disorder created by the sisters? 3) monarchical disorder created King Lear 4) monarchical disorder created by the sisters? Try to rewrite this essay focusing on the familial vs. monarchical order. Try to pick apart the words and try to find deeper meanings. I'll be happy to read another draft. King Lear is a classic.
OP dani21 2 / 5  
Mar 15, 2012   #3
I would agree with the idea of rearranging the essay to focus more on familial vs monarchial order although the rubric says to have a paragraph for each order.

This is really helpful im fixing up my body paragraphs now but i dont understand what you mean about writting letters to help with my introduction. i agree that it sounds like a list so it doesnt really flow but i didnt know how else to word it.
chalumeau /  
Mar 15, 2012   #4
The letters were an exercise to help you better understand the characters. I wouldn't include them in the essay.
Haven't you ever done a writing exercise to prepare you to write a paper? It really helps with Shakespeare.
OP dani21 2 / 5  
Mar 16, 2012   #5
This is what i found for the definition of Scythian - a member of the ancient nomadic people inhabiting Scythia
nomad - a member of a people who have no permanent home but move about according to the seasons.

So would Shakespeare's reference to this be an example of a historical allusion? Also by bosom Lear is referring to his heart correct?

As for the letters, i am currently too short on time but that would defiantly be a helpful exercise for future essays! Thank you
chalumeau /  
Mar 16, 2012   #6
Danielle do you have access to the Oxford English Dictionary through your college campus? OED
Almost every library has a hard copy edition.
It is an invaluable resource for studying the English language and comes in handy when reading Shakespeare.


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