Shakespeare's Tragedy : King Lear (Summary, Plot, Tragic story)- GentlemenGyan

The Tragedy of King Lear

Summary and plot of King Lear a Shakespeare's tragedy
King Lear & Cordelia
Credit: Wikimedia commons

Introduction : William Shakespeare:-

Shakespeare is considered to be the greatest playwright of all time. He belonged to Elizabethan Era and is one of the most important literary figures in English Literature. He has written a number of famous tragedies. 

Written in 1605-06, King Lear is his one of most popular tragedies. Sometimes cited as his best tragedy, it comprises of five acts. It is noted for its probing observations on the nature of human suffering and kinship.
George Bernard Shaw has written about it, "No man will ever write a better tragedy than Lear".

इस आर्टिकल को हिन्दी में पढ़ने के लिए नीचे क्लिक करें:- 🔗 किंग लियर

Summary and plot of King Lear:-

The play King Lear's plot is set in Britain. It is the story of an aging king of Britain named Lear. It is the story of the King Lear's gradual descent into madness and his downfall. King Lear has three daughters named Goneril, Regan and Cordelia; Goneril being the eldest and Cordelia being the youngest one. 

Here King lear decides  to step down from throne and attempts to divide the kingdom among his three daughters. However he puts his daughters through a test and ask each to express that how much they love him each. He bids to give a major portion of his kingdom to that daughter who loves him the most. 

The two elder daughters of King Lear, Goneril and Regan, gives Flattering answers to their father. However the youngest daughter, Cordelia, who truly loves her father gives him a simple response. She says she doesn't has the words to describe how much she loves her father.

King Lear, unable to understand the real meaning of her daughter's words, becomes enraged and disown Cordelia. He divides the entire kingdom between his two elder daughters, Goneril and Regan, who flatter him. 

King Lear is totally unfair and blind on his decision here. He commits blunder in his evaluation of his daughters. This error in his evaluation and misjudgement become his tragic flaw, which leads to his downfall and tragic death.

The King of France marries Cordelia even when she did not get any land from her father. Afterwards, King Lear decides to live with both his elder daughters Goneril and Regan one by one.  

But Goneril and Regan quickly begin to undermine their father's authority. They ask him to cut short the number of knights that accompany him. King Lear feels insulted, humiliated and betrayed. He learns that he has made a very bad and wrong decision. King Lear slowly slips into insanity. He flees his daughters and wander here and there on the heath.

When King Lear's loyal Gloucester comes to know about the events, he decides to help his king. He also gets a letter from french army for a future invasion led by Cordelia to save her father. Gloucester tells this to his illegitimate son Edmund who is living with him. 

But Gloucester is betrayed by him. He gives this information to Cornwall who is Regan's husband. After Regan and her husband, Cornwell, discovers this information  they charge Gloucester of treason and turn him blind to wander in the countryside. Unfortunately, French army is defeated by English troops; and Cordelia and King Lear are captured. 

                Earlier Regan is poisoned by Goneril as both of them want to marry Edmund, the illegitimate son of Gloucester. But Edmund is already defeated and killed in a duel by Edgar, the legitimate son of Gloucester. Goneril also kills herself  when her betrayal of trust is revealed to her husband. Cordelia is also executed because of Edmund's betrayal. King Lear shocked on Cordelia's death finally dies in grief. Thus the climax of this play is a series of deaths and tragic events. Only Albany who is the husband of Goneril, Edgar and Kent are left to look after the kingdom.

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Frequently Asked Questions:-

1) Short summary of King Lear?

Answer- King Lear the king of Britain wants to divide his Kingdom among his three daughters. But because of his mis-evaluation he divides the land between his two elder daughters only who flatters him. The third daughter who really loves him is not given anything and is banished. 
When he starts living with his eldest daughters both then rejects him and Lear goes mad. His third daughter gets killed in saving him. So he also dies in the grief and insanity.

2) What was King Lear's tragic flaw?

Answer- King Lear's tragic flaw (hamartia) was his arrogance, excessive pride and overjoy over flattery.

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