Humility. Lear And Gloucester's Journey Based On Shakespeare's King Lear. Describe King Lear And Gloucester's Journey From Arrogance To Humility And To Eventual Wisdom.

1670 words - 7 pages

Exposure to human cruelty is a powerful force in changing one's character or outlook on life. This is demonstrated in William Shakespeare's play, King Lear. Throughout the play, it is seen that for a variety of reasons both King Lear and the Earl of Gloucester move from arrogance to humility and finally to wisdom. This pair's arrogance is evident through their gullibility and rash decisions, their humility shown through their loss of power and resulting empathy and lastly, their wisdom displayed through remorse and reconciliation.Lear and Gloucester begin their journey as egotistical characters. Each of these two possesses great gullibility and allows their arrogance to influence their decision-making abilities. In an attempt to impress his subjects with his popularity, Lear decides to split up his kingdom based on the quality of his daughter's vows of love. Lear feels that because he is King, his daughters would dare not defy him, nor lie to him. Thus, when Regan and Goneril profess their undying love he fully trusts that they are sincere. It is unfortunate for Lear that he believes solely in his own 'excellent' judgement of character, as it is this overconfident behaviour that leads him into making some uninformed decisions. When it is Cordelia's turn to express her love to her father, she replies, "Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty according to my bond, no more nor less" (1.1.93-95). Lear is absolutely appalled by his daughter's response and decides that he will "disclaim all [his] paternal care, propinquity and property of blood" (1.1.115-116). It is clear that he is most angry with Cordelia because he feels that he deserves a much better declaration, as he is the King. This presumptuous belief causes Lear to exile, perhaps his most worthy daughter. Similarly, the Earl of Gloucester is just as quick to believe and banish. Edmund, Gloucester's bastard son, greedily plots to take his father's earldom. Edmund devises a plan to convince his father to disown Edgar, the legitimate son. After Edmund's plan is carried out, and Gloucester is told that Edgar is planning to kill him, he says, "Abhorred villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain... to his father, that so tenderly and entirely loves him" (1.2.76,96-97). Gloucester is shocked to find out that his own son would turn against him and become a traitor. He is inclined to believe that Edmund is being truthful to him, because he feels he would be able to tell if a man was lying to his face. As well, as far as he has been informed, Edgar is the disingenuous son, and feels it to be impossible for both sons to be betraying him in unison. Like Lear, he too, is incredibly naive. Edmund tells his brother, that he has been banished by Gloucester and that he must disappear to save his life. Another rash decision is initiated firstly by Gloucester's power and secondly by his arrogance. It is clear that both Lear and Gloucester's gullible nature and decisions...

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