This essay Shakespeare's King Lear has a total of 1843 words and 13 pages.
Shakespeare\'s King Lear
Shakespeare\'s tragedy King Lear is a detailed
description of the consequences of one man\'s decisions.
This fictitious man is Lear, King of England, who\'s
decisions greatly alter his life and the lives of those
around him. As Lear bears the status of King he is, as one
expects, a man of great power but sinfully he surrenders
all of this power to his daughters as a reward for their
demonstration of love towards him. This untimely abdication
of his throne results in a chain reaction of events that
send him through a journey of hell. King Lear is a
metaphorical description of one man\'s journey through hell
in order to expiate his sin.
As the play opens one can almost immediately see that
Lear begins to make mistakes that will eventually result in
his downfall. The very first words that he speaks in the
play are :-
"...Give me the map there. Know that we have
In three our kingdom, and \'tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age,
Conferring them on younger strengths while we
Unburdened crawl to death..."
(Act I, Sc i, Ln 38-41)
This gives the reader the first indication of Lear\'s intent
to abdicate his throne. He goes on further to offer pieces
of his kingdom to his daughters as a form of reward to his
test of love.
"Great rivals in our youngest daughter\'s love,
Long in our court have made their amorous
And here are to be answered. Tell me, my
(Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state),
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend
where nature doth with merit challenge."
(Act I, Sc i, Ln 47-53)
This is the first and most significant of the many sins that
he makes in this play. By abdicating his throne to fuel his
ego he is disrupts the great chain of being which states
that the King must not challenge the position that God has
given him. This undermining of God\'s authority results in
chaos that tears apart Lear\'s world. Leaving him, in the
end, with nothing. Following this Lear begins to banish
those around him that genuinely care for him as at this
stage he cannot see beyond the mask that the evil
wear. He banishes Kent, a loyal servant to Lear, and his
youngest and previously most loved daughter Cordelia. This
results in Lear surrounding himself with people who only
wish to use him which leaves him very vulnerable attack.
This is precisely what happens and it is through this that
he discovers his wrongs and amends them.
Following the committing of his sins, Lear becomes
abandoned and estranged from his kingdom which causes him to
loose insanity. While lost in his grief and self-pity the
fool is introduced to guide Lear back to the sane world and
to help find the lear that was ounce lost behind a hundred
Knights but now is out in the open and scared like a little
child. The fact that Lear has now been pushed out from
behind his Knights is dramatically represented by him
actually being out on the lawns of his castle. The
terrified little child that is now unsheltered is
dramatically portrayed by Lear\'s sudden insanity and his
rage and anger is seen through the thunderous weather that
is being experienced. All of this contributes to the
suffering of Lear due to the gross sins that he has
The pinnacle of this hell that is experienced be Lear
in order to repay his sins is at the end of the play when
Cordelia is killed. Lear says this before he himself dies
as he cannot live without his daughter.
"Howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones.
Had I your tongues and eyes, I\'d use them so
That heaven\'s vault should crack. She\'s gone
I know when one is dead, and when one lives.
She\'s dead as earth. Lend me a looking glass.
If that her breath will mist or stain the
Why, then she lives."
(Act V, Sc iii, Ln 306-312)
All of this pain that Lear suffered is traced back to
the single most important error that he made. The choice to
give up his throne. This one sin has proven to have massive
repercussions upon Lear and the lives of those around him
eventually killing almost all of those who were involved.
And one is left to ask one\'s self if a single wrong turn can
do this to Lear then what difficult corner lies ahead that
ma cause similar
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