Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Mine own tears do scald like molten lead"

So was "King Lear" a tragedy or a comedy? In the Northrop Frye sense of genre?

In one sense Cordelia and Lear die, therefore they can not live together happily as father and daughter reconciled, thus making it a tragedy.

However you could look at it in the sense of a Comedy in that Lear realizes when Cordelia dies that he has been loved in life by Cordelia (which means the "perfect heart") even though he was a bastard to her -- in other words he was forgiven by her pure heart all along. Hence father and daughter are spiritually reconciled in death. Therefore making it a happy realization on the part of Lear even though it comes at the moment of his demise.

As Shakespeare himself said Comedy is: "Journeys end in lover's meeting, Every wise man's son doth know" Well "King Lear" certainly has a harrowing journey across the Heath and ends with Cordelia and Lear reunited. Sooo....

Is Lear an "all-fall-down" Reservoir Dogs style tragedy where everyone dies and nobody gains enlightenment, with the exception of Mr. White realizing he's been defending a cop -- end-of-the-world type realization.

Or is Lear a messed-up inversion of Comedy in which, yes, the two central characters (putting aside the Gloucester storyline) die but in dying come to a wonderfully massive realization about the nature of love and forgiveness?

And what is up with the (Cordelia = Jesus), (Lear = God) stuff? If Cordelia/Jesus is hanged at the end. Then what the heck is going on when Lear/God is trying to revive her and dies himself?

Any thoughts? Or am I the only one who cares?

If you've never read this bad-ass masterpiece you should and you can here.

Originally posted on May 2, 2005 on Myspace.

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