King Lear By Shakespeare Essay

1921 words - 8 pages

In Shakespeare's play King Lear, the main character is King Lear, who starts off as a respected and powerful king. As the story progresses the king loses his power because of his own stupidity and blindness. Throughout the play, Shakespeare shows that sight does not just come from the eyes. The tragedy of this play is shown through the daughters of the king, the fool, and finally when King Lear's sanity is tested. King Lear opens with a conversation between the earls of Kent and Gloucester, in which we learn that Gloucester has two sons: Edgar, who is his legitimate heir, and Edmond, his younger illegitimate son. At the beginning of the play, King Lear is powerful and harsh. He announces that he intends to remove himself from the king's duties and concerns. He will divide his kingdom into three shares, to be given to his daughters, as determined by their declarations of love for him. When Lear asks his daughters who loves him the most, he thinks it will be Cordelia, the youngest daughter. First, Goneril lies when she tells her father how much she adores him followed by Regan who proclaims her love is even greater than her sisters. When Cordelia says, "I love your majesty/According to my bond, no more nor less" (Ii.91-93); Lear cannot see past the words, all he hears is the words, not the meaning behind them. He does not hear the words with his heart. The king was very upset with Cordelia and because of his anger and disappointment, he divided his kingdom equally between Goneril and Regan, and banishes Cordelia leaving her dowerless. The King of France decided he would marry Cordelia without a dowry. Giving the land to his two daughters was the first of Lear's mistakes, for the older daughters did not love him as much as Cordelia did, but they were happy to have his riches. Throughout most of King Lear, Lear's vision is clouded by his lack of insight. Since he cannot see into other people's characters, he can never identify them for who they truly are. When Lear is angered by Cordelia, Kent tries to reason with Lear, who is too angry and upset to have an open mind. Lear responds to Kent's opposition with, "Out of my sight!" to which Kent responds, "See better, Lear, and let me still remain" (Ii.158).Here, Lear is banishing Kent and never wants to see him again, but Lear never really saw Kent for who he was. Kent was only trying to do what was best for Lear, but Lear could not see that. Kent's vision is not hazed like Lear's, and he knows that all he has to do to remain by Lear's side is to be in a disguise. Lear's vision is so superficial that the physical garments and simple disguise that Kent wears easily dupe him. This shows just how Lear could only see with his eyes. His eyes saw someone new and that was all Lear needed to convince himself he did not know whom the person was. He only learns of Kent's noble and honest character just prior to his death, when his vision is cleared. Edmond complains of his...

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