King Lear's Journey Through Hell in William Shakespeare's King Lear
Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear is a detailed description of the consequences of one man's deci-sions. This fictitious man is Lear, King of England, whose decisions greatly change his life and the lives of those around him. As Lear takes on the rank of King he is, as one expects, a man of great power but he surrenders all of this power to his daughters as a reward for their display of love towards him. This sud-den surrender of his throne results in a chain reaction of events that send him through a journey of hell. King Lear is a typical description of one man's journey through hell in order to compensate for his sin. As the play begins you can almost immediately see that Lear begins to make mistakes that will eventually result in his downfall. The very first words thing he says in the play is:
"...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 to death..."
(Act I, Sc i, Ln 38-41)
This gives the reader the first indication of Lear's intent to abandon his throne. He goes on to offer pieces of his kingdom to his daughters as a form of reward to his test of love for him.
"Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
And here are to be answered. Tell me, my daughters
Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend
where nature doth with merit challenge."
(Act I, Sc i, Ln 47-53)
This is the first and most significant of the many mistakes that he makes in this play. By abandoning his throne, he disrupts the great chain of being which states that the King must not challenge the position that God has given him. This damage of God's authority results in chaos that tears apart Lear's world. Leaving him, in the end, with nothing. Following this Lear begins to banish those around him that truthfully care for him because at this stage he can't see beyond his nose evil wear. He banishes Kent, a loyal servant, and his youngest and most loved daughter Cordelia. This results in Lear surrounding himself with people who only wish to use him which leaves him very vulnerable. This is precisely what happens and it is through this that he discovers his wrongs and amends them.
Following the committing of his sins, Lear becomes abandoned and estranged from his kingdom, which causes him to loose insanity. While lost in his grief and self-pity the fool is introduced to guide Lear back to the sane world and to help find the Lear that was ounce lost behind a hundred Knights but now is out in the open and scared like a little child. He actually being out on the lawns of his castle dramatically repre-sents...