Critical Essay On King Lear

Critical Essay On King Lear-60
For, to speak of an artistic attainment as possessing magnitude in the highest degree is to imply the existence of attainments somewhat analogous and in this and that common respect somewhat inferior; it implies either this or the existence of a critic who has some a priori conception of a poem more wonderful than any yet written, in which case the critic should change to a more wonderful profession and contribute its culminating splendor.For us at least, it is certainly easier and wiser to say that every writer in each particular act of composing faces problems that have various levels of universality, and, if this were not so, we could not recognize any uniqueness in his achievement; the chances are we could not even recognize what he had written.

For, to speak of an artistic attainment as possessing magnitude in the highest degree is to imply the existence of attainments somewhat analogous and in this and that common respect somewhat inferior; it implies either this or the existence of a critic who has some a priori conception of a poem more wonderful than any yet written, in which case the critic should change to a more wonderful profession and contribute its culminating splendor.For us at least, it is certainly easier and wiser to say that every writer in each particular act of composing faces problems that have various levels of universality, and, if this were not so, we could not recognize any uniqueness in his achievement; the chances are we could not even recognize what he had written.

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In only certain senses, then, does Shakespeare forever elude us and refuse to “abide our question,” for, if there are general problems confronting every writer, we should be able to ask questions that Shakespeare of all men made no attempt to elude.

At a high level of universality, to write anything well, whether it be intellectual or imaginative, is to assume at least two obligations: to be .

What is here taken as ultimate in poetry is what is true of all good poems: they give a high order of distinctive pleasures, and it may be said summarily of high and distinctive pleasures that no man seems in danger of exceeding his allotment.

In a way a poet is untroubled about all this—about writing or writing poetry, for these are abstractions that cannot be engaged in, and he is trying to find the first or next word, and after “thick rotundity” he listens to “of” and is troubled, and then hears “o’ ” and so moves on to other troubles, leaving behind him “the thick rotundity o’ th’ world.” In a way, then, even in a long life a poet never writes poetry—just a few poems; and in this sense a poet’s problems do not begin until he closes in upon a piece of paper with something less abstract in mind than writing or writing poetry.

Furthermore, since the madness of Lear is almost entirely Shakespeare’s invention , it brings us face to face with both the tragic art and the tragic artist.

Now, to speak of a consummate poetic accomplishment is to imply that the kind of criticism which views all a writer’s problems as unique has overlooked a part of the whole of truth.On the other hand, the madness of Lear could have been drawn at such length that the spectator, like Kent, could not continue to view the suffering or, worse still, until the spectator began to suspect an author was manipulating suffering for suspense—and in either case the spectator would feel that he had seen too much.Moreover, the size of any literary particle is not a matter of quantity only.—and the unexpected should not be immediately and totally announced (in other words, expository and imaginative writing should have suspense), for, if the whole is immediately known, why should the writer or reader proceed farther?But the accomplished writer gives his selected material more than shape—he gives it proper .Particular manners of presentation are particular artistic problems, and particular artistic gifts are needed to solve these problems, and, if not, who are those who are both great novelists and great dramatists?And, more particular still, who among dramatists wrote both great comedies and great tragedies, although tragedy is only drama that moves certain emotions in us?As poetic writing is the representing or “making” of human experience, so the poet is the writer who possesses the powers and devices that transfer “life” from flesh to words.These possessions of a poet are not merely a knowledge of “life”; Machiavelli knew much about successful and unsuccessful rulers and wrote , and the few who may are severely limited in freedom of thought, speech, and action.For a piece of writing to have its proper size is an excellent thing, or otherwise it would be lacking in intelligibility or interest or both.Thus, if Lear’s anger had been transformed into madness in a single scene, all the odds are that such a transformation would seem beyond belief, and it is just as certain that the play would have died in the memory of men for want of suspense.

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