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Humanity In King Lear Essay

1088 words - 4 pages

Humanity in King Lear The play King Lear was written in the early sixteen hundreds by William Shakespeare. Despite its age, King Lear is nevertheless a powerful tragedy, which uses many theatrical effects to portray the essence of what it means to be human. Since Lear's characteristics are authoritarian, arrogant and self-centred, Shakespeare displays to the audience what it is like to be human. Since Lear has these characteristics, he banishes Cordelia, his daughters Goneril and Regan betray him and he becomes insane. Lear's arrogant act of banishing his favourite daughter starts the spread of evil in the play until the final ending of retribution and forgiveness are achieved.In the very first act and scene of this play, Lear banishes his loving daughter Cordelia. Lear planned to live the rest of his life with Cordelia but as Lear tells Kent, "Come not between the dragon and his wrath. I loved her most, and thought to set my rest on her kind nursery . . . "(I, I, 130-132). When Lear presented to the court that he wished to separate his land, he had everything planed out in a specific order. He knew Cordelia loved him more than his other two daughters. So when Cordelia would not play along with his charade, he became enraged. This rage lead Lear to believe that Cordelia did not really love him so he banished her. Lear in his arrogant manner misinterpreted Cordelia's words. David Horowitz demonstrates this in his book, Shakespeare An Existential View: ...she means the bond in its organic sense: she loves him as her father. What this means, Lear will learn at terrible cost; for it is precisely and poignantly this creative parental bond, a bond which by nature fosters a helpless nothingness into something . . . .(127) Humans by nature grow a bond with their children when raising them, without this bond the natural order that people from the sixteenth century believed in would not have existed. Shakespeare also demonstrates to the audience one of humans' natural fears that the child they raised for so many years will not love them and take care of them in their time of need.Lear was naive enough to believe that his two daughters, Goneril and Regan, loved him. When he began to divide his kingdom to his three daughters, Goneril and Regan only said what they knew would get them what they felt was theirs. Goneril and Regan knew their father loved Cordelia more, so when Cordelia would not tell her father what he wanted to hear, Goneril and Reagan got everything divided between the two of them. Goneril begins the betrayal at the end of act I scene IV, when she says to Lear, ". . . A little to disquantity your train, And the remainders that shall still depend To be such men as may besort your age . . . "(I, IV, 246-248). This enrages Lear and in return says to Goneril, "Darkness and devils!. . . Degenerate bastard, I'll not trouble thee; Yet have I left a daughter."(I, IV, 250-253). Regan continues the betrayal, by leaving her home and going to Gloucester's...

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