Evil and Regeneration in Shakespeare

Discussion of the portrayal of evil in Shakespeare’s Othello and King Lear.

This paper explores the possibility of a progressive increase in the degree of evil in Shakespeare’s plays, “Othello” and “King Lear”. The paper also discusses the counterpoint to evil, regeneration, and how it appears in Shakespeare’s plays.
Evil is encountered in the plays firstly though the actions of individuals. It is very difficult to categorize and separate the various themes or motifs in Shakespearean criticism. The study of evil for example, must also take into account another important theme the nature of man and the nature vs. nurture debate. This applies to the theme of regeneration, which is closely linked to the theme of appearance and reality – one of the most pervasive issues in the later plays. On the level of individual actions affecting others, regeneration is the result of a realization and an unveiling of illusion. Truth breaks through the miasma of illusion that often creates the tragic situation in the plays.