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“Each Character In King Lear Has Control Over Their Fate. The Fates Of Each Character Are Determined By Events Which Occur In The Opening Scenes Of The Play.” To What Extent Do You Agree With This Statement?

1317 words - 5 pages

"Each character in King Lear has control over their fate. The fates of each character are determined by events which occur in the opening scenes of the play."To what extent do you agree with this statement?Freewill and fate are themes which are frequently discussed in reference to Shakespeare's plays. He often makes the audience wonder whether the characters ever had a choice in how their stories would end. King Lear's decision to abdicate the throne to his three daughters is the first decision made in the play. This is most certainly free will, king lear, as the most powerful man in the kingdom, has every opportunity to make the decisions he wishes. However, even at this point we see his madness overtaking him, making us question his rationality when having made this decision. He treats the event with a great informality, referring to his abdication as "shake[ing] all cares and business from our (his) age; Conferring them on younger strengths, while we (he) Unburthen'd crawl(s) toward death."This statement could also be seen as proof of his complete disregard for the wellbeing of his kingdom, making his abdication the wisest choice to make in the interest of his people. This also brings to question whether the kingdom would have really benefitted from having king Lear's reign continue.The abdication of the throne to his daughters was inevitable however, as, although King Lear's age is never mentioned in the play, it is assumed that he is of an old age. Therefore, this decision may not be considered as an act of free will.King Lear introduces a love test of sorts, to decide who receives a larger portion of his kingdom. Goneril uses flowery words and exaggerates her love for her father claiming that all of her love is her father's. Reagan is quick to agree with her sister and uses even bigger language than her sister before her, leaving Cordelia in a difficult situation.Cordelia's decision to go against the love test her father had presented to her can be seen as an act of freewill and the catalyst for the entire play. Had she complied with her father's wishes, her fate may have turned out differently. However, the fact that her sisters had gone before her may have made it difficult for her to find something of the equal or better to say to her father. Another factor could be that Cordelia and Lear are too similar in their stubbornness, and because of this, she refused to feed her father's ego. Cordelia may have seen the pointlessness of the love test, and because of the Christ-like way Shakespeare presents the character, she was too honest a character to lie to her father. I stead she responds that she loves her father "according to my bond; nor more, nor less". There is evidence beforehand of her growing distress at the situation, and of her panic at the fact that she cant think of anything to say: "Then poor Cordelia! And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's More richer than my tongue."Even after she has told her father that she has...

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