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Internal and External Conflicts in King Lear

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Vanshika Sharma

on 19 July 2016

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Transcript of Internal and External Conflicts in King Lear

Internal and External Conflicts in King Lear
Introduction to Topic
The epic tragedy, King Lear, has often been regarded as Shakespeare's greatest masterpiece, if not the crowning achievement of any dramatist in Western literature. King Lear is a play displaying the downfalls a man can obtain with the influence of a few incorrect decisions and paths taken by the tragic hero. Shakespeare demonstrates how internal conflicts can manifest into external conflicts through this play.
What is internal conflict?
Conclusion of Conflicts
The most influential writer in English literature, William Shakespeare was able to demonstrated the use of conflict within this play through the characters of King Lear and Edmund.
Shakespeare's use of external and internal conflict helps build the plot of the play by using very suspenseful conflicts between a character's mind and a character against an outside force.
Introduction to King Lear:

Introduction to Edmund
Edmund is the main antagonist in the play
the illegitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester
forms a union with Goneril and Regan through his ambitious and selfish nature
will do anything possible to secure his selfishness for the inheritance
envy for Edgar because of his strong relationship with the Earl
Internal Conflict with King Lear
Internal Conflict with Edmund
personal gain versus dignity
good versus evil
continuous hunger for power throughout the play
jealous of Edgar and Edgars' relationship with their father
angry because he is Gloucesters' illegitimate child
External Conflicts with Edmund
psychological struggle within the mind of a literary or dramatic character
Literary Example through Eliezer from Night
internal conflict with his father
internal conflict with God
- The aging king of Britain
- protagonist of the play.
- Lear is used to enjoying absolute power and to being flattered
- He does not respond well to being contradicted or challenged.
- His values are notably hollow
- He prioritizes the appearance of love over actual devotion and wishes to maintain the power of a king while unburdening himself of the responsibility.

[…]thou art a traitor,
False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father,
Conspirant 'gainst this high illustrious prince,
And from th' extremest upward of thy head
To the descent and dust below thy foot
A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou “No,”
This sword, this arm, and my best spirits are bent
To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,
Thou liest.(5.3.152-160)
Does any0ne have an example of an internal conflict from any other literature or movie?
Do you believe that Edmund's decisions and actions to secure his inheritance were justified?
What is External Conflict?
Struggle between a literary or dramatic character and an outside force such as nature or another character, which drives the dramatic action of the plot
Several varieties:
Character vs. Character
Character vs. Nature
Character vs. Society
Character vs. supernatural
(gods, demons, fate, etc)
Usually between protagonist and antagonist
External conflict is a struggle that occurs as a result of a character's internal conflicts
Literary Example from Cinderella
What is the most common form?
What are some external conflicts in this video clip?
Character vs. Character
Cinderella vs. Step Sisters
Cinderella vs. Step Mother
She experiences conflicts between herself and her step sisters/mother.
Step mother doesn't allow her to attend the party.
Step sister's pull on her dress and rip her necklace off.
shown in his:
- His Pride
- His Vanity
- His Insanity
- His Revelation
*Conflict with outside force*
External Conflicts with King Lear
O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s . . .

You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!

If it be you that stir these daughters’ hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
And let not women’s weapons, water-drops,
Stain my man’s cheeks! No, you unnatural hags,

No, I’ll not weep.
I have full cause of weeping, but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
Or ere I’ll weep. O fool, I shall go mad! (2.4.259–281)
Character vs. Character
King Lear experiences cruelties from Goneril and Regan and rages against them.
Goneril and Regan take Lear's power and reduce him to the level of an animal.
He's unable to bear the realization of his daughters terrible betrayal.
Conflict between him and Cordelia, loses good daughter and suffers with the evil daughters.
Did King Lear's internal conflicts contribute to his external conflicts? If yes, explain how.
Example of External Conflict in the Media
-Kanye West's song 'Famous',
-"I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, I made that b***h famous"
-Taylor Swift did not approve of the lyrics
-Kim K posted videos of Taylor giving approval
Edmund was unable to control his conscience that it took over and led him to betray his father and brother
"King Lear" has proven to be a play of both external and internal conflicts as both characters struggled with psychological battles and dramatic battles with other characters.
1. What was King Lear's internal and external conflicts?
2. What was Edmund's internal and external conflicts?
3. In your opinion, which conflict plays a more significant role in plays/stories?
Real Life Example through Barack Obama
deals with conflicts that arise from race and ethics
positively influenced his decisions and actions to support other people who face the same internal conflict
the resolution of which creates the plot's suspense

mental struggle arising from opposing demands or impulses.
Many varieties:
- truth vs. reality
- ID vs. superego
-pride vs. reality
-greed vs. morality
What internal conflicts did you
notice throughout the play?
How, how Cordelia? Mend your speech a little, lest you may mar your fortunes.
Truth vs. Realtiy
His pride is damaged when Cordelia refuses to compliment Lear like her sisters, causing this inner conflict to manifest itself in anger towards Cordelia, seen in his cruel actions towards her.
“Thy valor and thy heart, thou art a traitor, false to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father, conspirant 'gainst this high illustrious prince, and from th' extremest upward of thy head to the descent and dust below thy foot, a most toad-spotted traitor” (Act 5 scene 3, 152 – 157)
Character vs Character
Made his brother flee
Cut his arm and blamed it on Edgar
Contribute to father's death
Plan fails and Edgar becomes ruler
This conflict is key to the tragedy because it sets the stage, letting the audience know what kind of state the King, and therefore the kingdom is in, one of disorder.
Is this a real conflict between Kanye and Taylor or is it a fake conflict to make a profit from and why do you think that?
Thank You!
By: Vanshika
Simran S
Simran D
Full transcript