King Lear Essay

1533 words - 7 pages

King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. It is a play that portrayed a world too cruel and unmerciful to be true to life. It is a play filled with endless horror and unrelieved suffering. However, in this environment, Shakespeare expresses human existence in its profound depth. He examines the motivation of the characters’ actions and the future consequences of their irrational thoughts. In the play, Shakespeare illustrates King Lear’s development as a tragic hero driven by emotion to a character of rational thoughts with the help of his reasonable daughter, Cordelia, and the contrast of the ambiguous Edmund. In the play, Shakespeare analyzes the characters’ emotional needs and their ability to resolve their problems with rational actions. He shows the consequences of acting rashly and irresponsibly through the sufferings of King Lear. He explores the struggle for power and the emotional need of a tired king. He created a play that illustrated the needs of reason and emotion for a human being.
King Lear has been in a position of authority and superiority. This position shapes King Lear into a man full of pride. However, as King Lear’s age grows, his emotional needs also grows. It is the false pride of Lear that blinded him with his emotional needs. King Lear behaved rashly and irresponsibly at the start of the play. Deep within Lear, he realizes that it is time for him to retired from this position of honor. Despite this realization, Lear’s pride keeps him from letting go of his power. King Lear wants the title and treatment of a king, but he does not want the work and obligations of the position. Therefore, when he makes the choice of letting his daughters to govern the kingdom, it foreshadows the strapping away of his power. As King Lear shares his decision of dividing up his kingdom, he states, “ Give me the map there.—Know that we have divided In three our kingdom, and ’tis our fast intent To shake all cares and business from our age, Conferring them on younger strengths while we Unburdened crawl toward death.” This shows that King Lear has already divided up his kingdom. So, as he goes on saying “ Which of you shall we say doth love us most”, he had already made his decision and knows the answer. King Lear does this due to his emotional needs as a king. He wants to hear flattery words from his daughters. He wants to hear that he is loved. Due to his false pride, Lear cannot recognize Cordelia’s honesty amid the flattery, which he craves. However, Lear does know that Cordelia is the one that loves him the most. This can be seen through his attempts of making her speak again as he states “ How, how, Cordelia? Mend your speech a little, Lest you may mar your fortunes.” Therefore, despite his knowledge of Cordelia’s love, King Lear, feeling hurt and angered, disowns Cordelia as his daughter. In addition, when Kent, his devoted follower, tries to stop Lear from making a mistake, Lear states, “ Peace, Kent. Come not between the dragon and...

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