Animal Imagery in King Lear Term Paper

Pages: 7 (1837 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Animals


King Lear responds to Edgar's story and plight with the clearest comparison to men and animals:

Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer, with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies,

Is man no more than this? Consider him well.

Thou / owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! here's three on/'s are sophisticate! Thou art thing itself, unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor bare, forked animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings / come unbutton here" (3.4.104-111).

One of the more charming analogies used in the play is when Edgar asks King Lear, "Let us deal justly / Sleepest or wakest thou, jolly shepherd? Thy sheep be in the corn / And for one blast of thy minikin mouth / Thy sheep shall take no harm / Pur! The cat is gray" (3.6.41-46). Quite obviously, Edgar is referring to the need for a king, like a shepherd, to be ever vigilant so that his flocks never come to any harm.

From charming to the use of animals to refer to the savage, barbaric behaviour of Regan and Goneril, when Gloucester says, "Because I would not see thy cruel nails / Pluck out his poor old eyes; nor thy fierce sister/In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs" (3.7.62-64).

Goneril's own husband chastises her, "What have you done? Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform'd? A father, and a gracious aged man / Whose reverence even the head-lugg'd bear would lick" (4.2.44-47).

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There are many more references to animals throughout the play that have not been covered here since there are too many of them. Surprisingly, there are fewer and fewer animal motifs in Act 5. It's almost as if the need for it reduces as good overcomes evil and justice is done.

Term Paper on Animal Imagery in King Lear Assignment

We have seen from the above examples that there are frequent references to animals in King Lear… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Animal Imagery in King Lear.  (2002, June 12).  Retrieved April 2, 2020, from

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"Animal Imagery in King Lear."  12 June 2002.  Web.  2 April 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Animal Imagery in King Lear."  June 12, 2002.  Accessed April 2, 2020.