Animus 15 (2012)

The human capacity to oscillate between different ontological states is one of the central preoccupations of King Lear and Othello. In each play Shakespeare dismantles what he considers erroneous accounts of human nature, both traditional and emergent, in order to advance an account of our nature this is premised on human liberty, which the playwright describes as a capacity to act against nature. To demonstrate this capacity King Lear and Othello illustrate how the absence of political restraints allows characters to slip from a civilized state into an environment defined by fear, violent competition, and jealousy, a state much like Thomas Hobbes’ imagined state of nature.
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