King Lear: A Negatively Capable Outsider

  • Hossein Salimian Rizi University of Vienna, AUSTRIA
Keywords: Negative capability, identity, outsider


Negative capability, John Keats’s coined term, defined the ideal poet as the one capable of being in uncertainties and mysteries without any reaching after fact and reason. He insisted poets let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts, by holding on no fixed identity but metamorphic identities. Although, Keats found the ideal quality of a poet in Shakespeare, it did not appear far from logical to investigate it in the characters of his plays, specifically King Lear, since he underwent changes throughout the story. King Lear cut across his egoistic self to enrich his receptivity to the actual vastness of life experience after he became an outsider in his erstwhile kingdom. In this article, I would employ the concept of negative capability to take a step further ahead of its theoretically stipulated implications and investigate it on the character of King Lear.


Download data is not yet available.


Bate, W. J. (1958). The stylistic development of Keats. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Benton, Richard. P. (1966). Keats and Zen. Philo¬sophy East and West, 16, 33-47.

Calderwood, James. L. (1986). Creative uncreation in King Lear. Shakespeare Quarterly, 37 (1), 5–19.

De Man, Paul. (1996). Aesthetic ideology. Minnea-polis: University of Minnesota Press.

Engell, James. (1981). The creative imagination: enli-ghten¬ment to romanticism. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press.

Fay, Elizabeth A. (1998). A feminist introduction to romanticism. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.

Foakes, R. A. (1994). Hamlet versus Lear: cultural politics and Shakespeare’s art. Cambridge: Cam-bridge University Press.

Han, Kwang-Sok. (2010). The ontological vision of nothing and realization of the true self in King Lear. The Journal of East-West Comparative Literature, 22, 247–270.

Hazlitt, William and Hunt, Leigh. (1991). The round table: 1817. Oxford: Woodstock Books.

Keats, John. (2002). Selected letters. Ed. Robert Gittings. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford Uni-versity Press.

---. (1899). The complete poetical works and letters of John Keats. Ed. Horace E. Scudder. Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Company.

Ou, Li. (2009). Keats and negative capability. London: Continum. eBook Super Collection- Austria. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

Sandy, Mark. (2005). Poetics of self and form in Keats and Shelley: nietzschean subjectivity and genre. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Schoff, Francis, G. (1962). King Lear: moral example or tragic protagonist. Shakespeare Quarterly, 13(2), 157–72.

Shakespeare, William. (2009). The tragedy of King Lear. Ed. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.

Whale, John. (2005). John Keats (critical issues). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

White, R. S. (1987). Keats as a reader of Shakes¬peare. London: The Athlone Press