An Analysis of Nature in Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

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An Analysis of Nature in King Lear

The concept of Nature in Shakespeare's King Lear 1[1] is not simply one of many themes to be uncovered and analyzed, but rather it can be considered to be the foundation of the whole play. From Kingship through to personal human relations, from representations of the physical world to notions of the heavenly realm, from the portrayal of human nature to the use of animal imagery; Nature permeates every line of King Lear. However as I intend to argue, Nature in all of these contexts is a social construct, which is utilized in order to legitimize the existing social order. In order to do this it is first necessary to draw a very brief sketch of the political and social beliefs of the Elizabethan and
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By connecting the notion of the Divine to Kings, James I is legitimizing his power through naturalization, the very fact that James I felt it necessary to reiterate this concept in parliament suggests that it was a social construct, not a natural fact, designed to legitimize and protect the interests of the monarchy. The concept of 'the Great Chain of Being' follows on from the notion of the Divine Right of Kings and again legitimizes the actions of those holding power. For if by 'nature' everyone and everything has its place, and knows its duties and obligations to that place, then the status quo is maintained and those that hold the power cannot be questioned.

Shakespeare belonged to a world where notions of man, his nature and his place in the universe were an amalgamation of both Christian and pagan philosophies. According to Reese, 'it provided a cosmological system which, though complicated, inconsistent and even uncertain in its details, was definite in outline and purpose, and its core was the assurance of the unity and intimate correspondence of the whole of God's creation.' 3[3]

Belief in the correspondence and unity of the physical world to the heavenly allowed man to believe in God's grand plan where everything had its place, and

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