Nature in King Lear

4 April 2015
A look at the word, ‘nature’ in Shakespeare’s King Lear.

This paper is an analysis of King Lear centering on Shakespeare’s thematic use of various conceptions of nature as structured by definitions of the word found in the Oxford English Dictionary. This study shows how exploring word meanings aids in understanding the theme.
“A consideration of NATURE in its many definitions as revealed in the OED and as applied to the use of the word NATURE as utilized by Shakespeare in King Lear proves vast and revealing. Shakespeare’s characters use this word in its many meanings to suit their own needs. Observing Shakespeare’s varied uses of this word through King Lear aids in understanding the tragic complexity of the play and its title character. What Lear has always believed about NATURE gets turned upside down in the course of the action of this drama. Characters like Kent and Edgar must disguise themselves to hide their true identities and honest NATUREs. Others like Goneril, Regan, Cornwall and Edmund turn what appear to be their true NATUREs inside out into falseness. As readers and audience consider this word NATURE in its many implications we begin to realize the immensity of meaning available for our contemplation.”
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