Identity Recognition as a Tragic Flaw in King Lear by William Shakespeare: Application of Hegel’s Master-Slave Dialectic

Malik Haroon Afzal, Mohamad Rashidi Mohd Pakri, Nurul Farhana Low Abdullah


According to several theories of recognition it has been established that an individual counts on the feedback of another to seek identity recognition. According to G.W.F. Hegel (1977) the identity of an individual being does not rest solely in himself but in its relationship to other beings. In his opinion, consciousness of a self exists in being acknowledged by another self and true selfhood exists in acknowledging the requirements and rights of the other self. This paper aims at analyzing the identity recognition as a tragic flaw in William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy King Lear in the light of Hegel’s critiques of self and the other. In this context, King Lear’s attainment of true selfhood and self- knowledge is going to be visualized as the consequence of his effort for identity recognition and then undergoing an extreme suffering. The present research aims to explore the process or stages of becoming a victim of identity crisis. The crisis of recognition for the protagonist of the play starts right in the first scene. This paper aims at discussing the identity recognition on the part of King Lear himself and others in the play as a cause of tragedy. By using Hegel’s Master-Slave Dialectic, this paper will open up a new research direction for the Shakespearean scholars.


Being for Self, Being for Other, Self-Recognition, Master-Slave Dialectic

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