In The Morality of Shakespeare’s Drama Illustrated (1775), Mrs. Elizabeth Griffith suggests a solution to the play’s troubling finale. If the point of tragedy is to reward virtue and to punish vice, then King Lear is a failure, so far as both the just and the unjust are punished alike. However, if the point of tragedy is to stir in the reader and in the audience pity and fear (Catharsis), then “surely no Play that ever was written can possibly answer both these ends better than this performance, as it stands in the present text” (351). This is a clever evasion of a critical issue in Shakespeare’s play. Rather than answering why Shakespeare violated classical rules of justice in King Lear, Griffith argues that injustice itself is a rooted classical aesthetic. Thus, Shakespeare, whether he is morally just or unjust, is always classically correct. Even with this loophole, there remains one passage that continues to trouble Griffith. Gloucester’s lament that:

As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods; They kill us for their sport.