2015 Student Research Conference:
28th Annual Student Research Conference

Oblivion and Religion in King Lear
Sydnie C. Russian
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

In King Lear, Shakespeare plays on the Latin phrase, "ex nihilo nihil fit", which means "from nothing, nothing comes", often used by Greek philosophers and scientists. It is the very opposite of the point that God created the world out of nothing. This play is a vehicle for grappling with age-old questions of faith and man's place in the universe. By using clever word play, Shakespeare uncovers the fears of uncertainty and the longing for certainty of both the faithful and non-religious. As King Lear descends into madness, spiraling questions about the purpose of life and the powers behind the characters' fates are brought to the surface. This essay will analyze the multiple meanings behind Shakespeare's use of the word "nothing" by examining specific lines in the play and how the characters themselves are reduced to nothing through lack of power, misplaced trust and tragic deaths.

Keywords: Shakespeare, King Lear, oblivion, nothing, religion, tragedy


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 303-5
Location: VH 1224
Time: 2:00

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