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Symbolism of Death in King Lear

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Lindsey Cooke

on 21 November 2013

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Transcript of Symbolism of Death in King Lear

D e a t h
King Lear

The deaths of the heroes in
King Lear
show symbolism of the injustice that occurs. This symbol develops the significance that one decision can cause an unjust world, which also results in their loss of innocence. This teaches the audience that people don't always deserve what they receive.
Deaths in King Lear
Duke of Cornwall- (Wounded by servant to Gloucester)
Servant of Cornwall
Oswald (killed in fight with Edgar)
Regan (Poisoned by Goneril)
Gloucester(heart attack from seeing Edgar)
Goneril( commits suicide by stabbing herself)
Edmund (killed in the fight with Edgar).
Cordelia (hung in prison)
Slayer of Cordelia (killed by Lear)
King Lear (died from a broken heart)
Argument #1
Cordelia's death symbolizes an unjust world because of her acts of innocence and loyalty towards her father, even after she had been mistreated by him. There is no justification for her death therefore proving that no good deed goes unpunished.
"(aside)Then poor Cordelia!
And yet not so, since I am sure my love’s
More ponderous than my tongue" (1. 1. 78-80)

Argument #2
"Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones:
Had I your tongues and eyes. I'd use them so
That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone forever!
I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
She's dead as earth" (5.3.256-260)
Lear's impulsive decisions caused him to lose his innocence. However through his undeserved sufferings he became aware of his irrational behavior, and redeemed himself by changing his treatment towards others. Ultimately proving that Lear's death is symbolism of an unjust world.
Gloucester's ignorance displays his blindness because of the unknowing betrayal he commits towards his loyal son. Ultimately the end of Gloucester's life proves that the series of tragic events that led up to his death symbolizes the lack of justice in the play.
"Go you and maintain talk with the duke, that my charity be not of him perceived. If he ask for me, I am ill and gone to bed. Though I die for it—as no less is threatened me—the king my old master must be relieved. There is some strange thing toward, Edmund. Pray you, be careful." (3.3.14-20)
Argument #3
"This feather stirs. She lives. If it be so,
It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows
That ever I have felt." (5.3.278-280)
"And my poor fool is hanged.—No, no, no life?
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
And thou no breath at all? Oh, thou'lt come no more,
Never, never, never, never, never.—
Pray you, undo this button. Thank you, sir.
Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips.
Look there, look there. O, O, O, O.
(dies)" (5.3.320-327)
"Their precious stones new lost, became his guide,
Led him, begged for him, saved him from despair.
Never—O fault!—revealed myself unto him
Until some half-hour past, when I was armed.
Not sure, though hoping of this good success,
I asked his blessing, and from first to last
Told him my pilgrimage. But his flawed heart—
Alack, too weak the conflict to support—
'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
Burst smilingly." (5.3.191-198)
"A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
I might have saved her. Now she’s gone for ever.—
Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha?
What is ’t thou say’st?—Her voice was ever soft,
Gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman.—
I killed the slave that was a-hanging thee" (5. 3. 282-288
Full transcript