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Word Count: 764
Of all Shakespeares great tragic heroes Lear is perhaps the least typical In the beginning of the play Lear is already an old man his best days have passed though doubtless there is still about his person a certain regal carriage Lears petulant behavior betrays him and soon when he engages his three daughters in the dreadful game of flattery wherein Goneril and Regan swear the whole allegiance of their hearts to a father leaving nothing for a husband it becomes clear that Lear is something less than natural In the first act Lear assumes one of the least attractive roles in Shakespearean literature that of a bad father Lear at first does not realize that his temper and deep seeded need of blandishment leads to the usurpation of his divinity Only through rejection and madness is Lear able to understand and change his destructive attitudes and behavior As a tragedy King Lear portrays a protagonist whose fortunes are conditioned by his hamartia or tragic flaw As defined by Aristotle the protagonist of a tragedy should be a person who is not eminently good or just yet whose fortune is brought about by some error or frailty Jacobus IIV This error is not necessarily a flaw in character hamartia can be an unwitting misstep in definite action or the failure to perform an action Jacobus IIV Lears hamartia is the capricious division of his powers and kingdom before his death - more specifically the rejection of Cordelia because she will speak nothing Lears flawed character traits that enabled him to make this mistake were his disrespect of the chain of being his faith in the substance of spoken words and his rashness Lear believes himself a great and respected King Goneril Regan and the Fool constantly remind him that he is an old man who has lost his kingdom his faithful daughter and his wits through his own folly In Lears whimsical desire to
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