To What Extent May King Lear Be Considered a 'Tragic Hero'?

To a greater extent, it could be argued that the eponymous protagonist, Lear, may be considered a tragic hero, as he can be interpreted as having all of the tropes of the classical Greek drama convention. Indeed, through the King's tragic downfall at the hands of the younger generation, as well as his own hamartia, Lear may be portrayed as a mighty leader, fallen from grace and turned into no more than a senile old man. Perhaps this is most clearly conveyed through Lear's moment of anagnorisis towards the end of the tragedy, noting that 'I am a very foolish fond old man, [...] I fear I am not in my perfect mind.'. Here, Lear's flaws are laid bare for all to see, as the deposed regent finally notes the he is 'foolish' and 'fond' after his claims of sanity in the first acts of the play. Arguably, in creating pathos for the old king, Lear finally becomes a protagonist worthy of our sympathy, despite the 'foolish' actions that caused his peripeteia. In recognising his hamartia, the foolish redistribution of his wealth to his power hungry daughters, Lear may be interpreted as finally completing his fall from grace, turning from what Foakes describes as the 'majestic ancient' to what he has actually become: a 'poor, infirm, weak and despised old man'.Key Terms:Hamartia - A Tragic Hero's fatal flaw, that which causes their eventual downfallPeripeteia - The downward spiral of a Tragic Hero, usually stemming from their hamartia Anagnorisis - A moment of clarity for the Tragic Hero, who realises their flaws and weaknessesPathos - The creation of sympathy towards a character

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