Macbeth vs King Lear


Shakespeare draws tragic parallels between Macbeth and King Lear’s eventual tale spins into madness.  In both plays female deception is present.  In King Lear we have the king’s daughter Regan and Gonoril who deceptively lie to their father confessing their love to strip him of his wealth, causing him to leave society and become one with nature. Lady Macbeth seems fair but reveals her manipulation when she pushes her husband to murder the king. Lady Macbeth questions his masculinity until she convinces his to go along with her plan. Lady Macbeth uses her tongue to make Macbeth feel less manly stating he is, “too full of the milk of human kindness (1.5.15)

Another similarity is in the form of characters. I found a striking correlation between the Fool in King Lear and the witches in Macbeth. These characters demonstrate intuition and wisdom to influential characters. Unfortunately their insights are ignored in both plays. In Macbeth the witches call Banquo “lesser than Macbeth, and greater,” and “not so happy, yet much happier”; then they tell him that he will never be king but that his children will sit upon the throne (1.3.63–65)”. If the witches were presented differently do you think the characters would have listened to them? In King Lear the Fool tries to warn the king about banishing Cordelia, which the king eventually learns was his biggest mistake. Both the witches and the Fool change their speech throughout the play demonstrating rhyme or lyrical passages. “And the very ports they blow, All the quarters that they know..I’ll drain him dry as hay. Sleep shall neither night nor day.”(1.3.14-18)

            In Macbeth King Duncan names his son Malcolm heir to his throne. Both Duncan and King Lear have named their children as their heirs prior to their deaths. Both Kings expect by doing so they will be able to carry out the rest of their lives peacefully which sadly doesn’t happen. Between the two plays I found King Lear more gripping and intriguing. Right up until the end King Lear sucked me in and had me involved around every twist and turn unlike Macbeth. I can appreciate strong female characters and guilt burdened characters but I found no sympathy for any of these characters. I was happy to see that as in King Lear, Macbeth realized that true insight comes from within.


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