King Lear

King Lear The play of King Lear is about a person in search of their own personal identity. In the historical period in which this play is set, the social structure was set in order of things closest to Heaven. Therefore, on Earth, the king was at the top, followed by his noblemen and going all the way down to the basest of objects such as rocks and dirt. This structure was set up by the people, and by going by the premise that anything that is man made is imperfect, this system cannot exist for long without conflict. Through tattered clothes small vices do appear; Robes and furred gowns hide all.

Plate sin with gold, And the strong lance of justice hurtles breaks; (IV, vi). The chaos that occurs in King Lear is due the reshaping of bonds within the society. Thus naturally, bonds must be broken, kept and most importantly, formed. This rearrangement of bonds is necessary to Lear understanding his personal identity. Bonds that are broken include those relations between King Lear and his two eldest daughters (Regan and Goneril), between Glouster and Edmund and also between Edmund and Edgar. Lear and Cordelia; Lear and Kent; Glouster and Edgar include those bonds that are existent at both the beginning and conclusion of the play.

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By the ending of the play, Lear is able to come to terms with himself and with nature. For the rearrangement of the bonds, it is necessary that those based on money, power, land, and deception be to abandoned. In the case of Lear and Goneril and Regan, his two daughters have deceived their father for their personal gain. Furthermore, they had not intended to keep the bond with their father once they had what they wanted. Goneril states We must do something, and i’ th’ heat.

(I, i, 355), meaning that they wish to take more power upon themselves while they can. By his two of his daughters betraying him, Lear was able to gain insight that he is not as respected as he perceives himself to be. The relationship broken between Edmund his half- bother, Edgar and father, Glouster is similarly deteriorated in the interest of material items. By the end of the play, Edgar has recognized who is brother really is and when he has confronted him says the more th’ hast wronged me.. The dark and vicious place where thee he got/ Cost him his eyes.

(V, iii, 203- 207). Since these bonds were all based on material items, they were not genuine therefore could not hold in the rearrangement of bonds. Throughout the play some bonds remain true. Lear at first disowns Cordelia because he does not get the flattery from her that he wishes to hear. However, through much torment after he is reduced to nothing, Lear realizes that he cannot always get what he wants just because he is king.

Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia, The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee? He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes. (V, iii, 22- 26) Tough the two were not in communication through the majority of the play, they still had love for each other and by the end of the play, their bond is reformed. The breaking and reforming of Lear and Cordelia’s bond is similar to that of Lear and Kent’s bond. Throughout the play their bond remains true, only Lear is not aware of it. Even after Lear has passed away, Kent states, I have a journey, sir, shortly to go/ My master calls me; I must not say no. (V, iii, 390- 391), thus proving that even in Lear’s death he remains loyal.

The bonds that are present at both the beginning and ending of the play have the consistent elements of loyalty and love. Through the reforming of relationships Lear gains insight which allows him to come to terms with himself and nature. Throughout the play Lear experiences much torment and punishment from nature, for unnaturally giving up his power: Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow! You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout Till you have drenched our steeples, (drowned) the cocks. Your sulph’ rous and thought- executing fires, Vaunt- couriers of oak- cleaving thunderbolts, Singe my white head. And thou, all- shaking Thunder (III, ii, 1-8).

Lear has difficulties accepting his fate he believes he is More sinned against than sinning (III, ii, 62-63). It is not until he accepts his fate and comes to terms will himself that he is at peace. By the end of the play Lear is humbled and just happy that he has the love of Cordelia. The reshaping of bonds within Lear’s Kingdom was necessary for Lear coming to terms with himself. Throughout the play those relationships that were based on deception and material goods were broken while those bonds based on loyalty and love were present at the beginning and at the end of the play. Most importantly Lear is able to build a bond with nature which allows him to come to terms with himself.

At the conclusion of the play the lesson has been learned, Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say (V, iii, 392).

King Lear

King Lear is a play written by William Shakespeare that focuses on the relationships of many characters, some good, some evil. This is a great tragedy that is full of injustice at the beginning and the restoring of justice towards the end. The good are misjudged as evil and the evil are accepted as good. It is not until the end of the play that the righteous people are recognized as such. There is great treachery and deceit involved in the hierarchy of English rule. The great mistake in this play was made by Lear when he decided to divide up his kingdom to his three daughters. In order to determine which share each should get, he had each of his daughters give testimonies of love for him. Cordelia, the youngest, refused to go overboard with her statement. When asked for her testimony, she simply replied, “Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty according to my bond, no more no less.”(I,i, ln 91-93) Lear becomes enraged and casts !
her off saying, “Here I disclaim all my paternal care, propinquity and property of blood, and as a stranger to my heart and me hold this from thee for ever.”(I,i, ln 113-116). Some think that Cordelia was prideful, or even a fool in her response, but I believe she was simply being honest and true.
Another mistake that was made in the course of the play was by the Earl of Gloucester. After being tricked by his bastard son, Edmund, into believing that his other son, Edgar, was plotting to kill him, he put all his faith in Edmund, which would eventually lead to his demise. Besides believing that Cordelia was being true and honest to her father, I think that Lear and the Earl of Gloucester were fools, regarding the banishments of their righteous children.
After reading this play, I found it hard to believe that Cordelia was being anything but true in her simple proclamation of love for her father. I can’t believe that Shakespeare was trying to portray her as a spoiled, prideful child. I do not believe she was foolish in her decision to restrain from trying to persuade him into giving her a larger portion of his kingdom. I think it was apparent early that Cordelia was struggling with what she was going to say to her father. In her asides she says, “What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent”(I,i, ln 62), and after Regan spoke, “Then poor Cordelia; And yet not so, since I am sure my love’s more ponderous than my tongue.”(I,i, ln 76-78). It is obvious that she loves her father, but she can’t express it the way in which Lear wants her to. Because of this, she is disowned and sent away to France. The King even refers to her as, “Unfriended, new adopted to our hate, dow’red with our curse, and strangered with our o!
ath.”(I,i, ln 203-204). Cordelia’s love for her father was shown further when she received the letters concerning Lear’s mental state after being mistreated by his two other daughters. It was said that, “now and then an ample tear trilled down her delicate cheek.”(IV,iii, ln 12-13). Cordelia then orders for some of the French soldiers to bring Lear to her so that she can look after him before the war between Britain and the French soldiers begins. Her love was further displayed when she says, “But love, dear love, and our aged father’s right. Soon may I hear and see him!”(IV,iv, ln 28-29). Because of all of this, I firmly believe that Cordelia truly loved her father and was only being honest when she refused to profess her love for him in order to rule a portion of Britain.
Besides believing that Cordelia was true in her response, I also think that Lear was acting as a fool when he disowned his only loving daughter. He made a monumental mistake when he handed over British rule to his two evil daughters, Regan and Goneril. This is what eventually led to his mental breakdown and the deaths of many of the heads of Britain. If he had only chose to keep control over his kingdom or to give up control to someone trustworthy, no one would have had to suffer as they did. Some people knew he was committing a terrible folly, especially the Earl of Kent. This is apparent when he says, “Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak when power to flattery bows? To plainness honor’s bound when majesty falls to folly. Reserve thy state, and in thy best consideration check this hideous rashness.(I,i, ln 147-151). Lear ignores this plea and even banishes Kent, who returns later, disguised as a servant. Another person to recognize his mistake i!
s the fool. In one of his rhymes, he says, “That lord that counselled thee to give away thy land, come place him here by me – Do thou for him stand. The sweet and bitter fool will presently appear; the one in motley here, the other found out there.(I,iv, ln 133-140). After giving all his power to Regan and Goneril, they reject him, kicking him out of their houses. This treatment of Lear drives him mad and he wishes that he had never given away his power or disowned Cordelia. This can be seen when he states, “No, you unnatural hags! I will have such revenges on you both that all the world shall-I will do such things-What they are, yet I know not; but they shall be the terrors of the earth.(II,iv, ln 273-277). It would take an entire book to explain all the ramifications of his great folly. However, I can say that the deaths of Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, and of himself may be attributed to his mistake. He also caused a war between Britain and France that should not have o!
ccurred. I believe it is clear that Lear acted as a fool when giving his land to Goneril and Regan, but not to Cordelia.
Another character who was very foolish in distinguishing between good and bad children was the Earl of Gloucester. Edmund, a bastard son of Gloucester, tricked him into believing that his brother, Edgar wanted to kill him and take his inheritance. He wrote a phony letter which implied all of this. Gloucester became outraged and gave all his trust to Edmund. He even declares, “O villain, villain! His very opinion in the letter. Abhorred villain, unnatural, detested, brutish villain.”(I,ii, ln 74-76). Edgar then convinces Edgar that he should flee because his life is in danger. He also believes Edmund, so he leaves his home and ends up hiding in a cave. Gloucester again takes Edmund completely into his confidence when he informs him that he was going to try and help Lear when he was out in a storm, even though he was given strict orders by Regan and the Duke of Cornwall. Edgar immediately tells Cornwall of the information he has just learned. He says to himsel!
f, “This courtesy forbid thee shall the Duke instantly know, and of that letter too. This seems a fair deserving, and must draw me that which my father loses-no less than all. The younger rises when the old doth fall.”(III,iii, ln 19-23). This treachery by Edmund ultimately leads to Gloucester having his eyes gauged out. Despite the efforts of Edgar to take care of him and restore his desire to live, Gloucester dies of a broken heart. Edgar explains, “His flawed heart – Alack, too weak the conflict to support – twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief, burst smilingly.(V,iii, ln 197-200). Edgar ends up killing Edmund, which means that Gloucester’s folly resulted in the deaths of both he and Edmund. It is very clear that the Earl of Gloucester can be considered a fool for taking Edmund into his confidence.
Overall, this play was full of evil and treachery. However, justice seemed to be served somewhat at the end. I do believe that Cordelia was very good-natured and was the only “true” daughter of King Lear. In a play full of evil people, she was one of the only honest and loving. It is amazing that only through great hardships, such as Gloucester having his eyes plucked out, could he and Lear receive true insight.

King Lear

In King Lear there is numerous evidence that can trace the gradual growth of the main characters mental breakdown. There are a few passages in the play which show us something of Lear before the story begins, and it will help understand the development of Lear’s passion into madness to examine these. At the end of the first scene Goneril speaks of her father’s treatment of Cordellia of a gross error of judgement and says:
“The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash,” and then points out that with such dispositions as he bears he will cause them offence unless he deprived of authourity. The opening words of the play revel the fact that the King is changeable, but this may only be an infirmity of age. He himself tells the reader that he is domineering and will not tolerate no opposition to his will. When addressing Kent, who interfered to prevent the banishment of Cordelia, he says
“Thou hast sought to make us break our vow
Which we durst yet, and with strain’d pride,
To come between our sentence and out power,
Which nor our nature nor out place can bear.”
In the play itself there are three great outbursts of passion, “hysterica passio” as the King names it. The first is in the opening scene, when disappointment at Cordelia’s failure to please him by an open avowal of her deep true love causes his wrath to blind his reason. For Lear, wanting something and having it are the same thing, and finding himself deprived where he most expected to be gratified, he does not stop to think why, but is hurried by his passion into a prompt and dreadful revenge. Lear’s great love for Cordellia was terribly wounded by her failure, but his


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