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King Lears Foolishness Essay

1258 words - 5 pages

King Lear is a metaphorical tale of an ailing man's journey through hell in order to forgive his sins. Lear's untimely, sinful surrender of his throne results in a chain reaction of events that send him through a treacherous journey. It is a tale that graphically describes the consequences of one man's foolish decisions; decisions that greatly alter his life and the lives of those around him. Lear suffers terribly, as a result of ignorantly dividing his kingdom among his eldest daughters, Goneril and Regan. By the time he realizes his daughters' tyrannical nature, it is too late, and they have already begun their plot to kill him. Amidst his increasing insanity however, Lear does become a wiser man, as he finally receives the ability to see people's true faces, something he from which he had been blinded from for so long.Lear was foolish in many ways, and was viewed that way by many different people. His most foolish move was questioning the love of his three daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. He created a contest which would reward the largest third of the kingdom to the daughter whom loved him the most, "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." (I, i, 47-53) He planned to divide the kingdom among the three to prevent strife, not realizing that it was an invitation to civil war instead. He asked his daughters to tell him how much they loved him in public. After Goneril and Regan flattered him with lies, Lear gave them third and second prize. When Cordelia, whom the largest piece of the kingdom was reserved for, refused to play the same flattery game as her sisters had done, Lear's rage exploded. Cordelia could have easily like her sisters, however she did not care to be rewarded with land and riches under false pretences. Lear, being blind to this, disowned Cordelia and banned her from her homeland. Foolishly, Lear also banished his only loyal follower, Kent, for sticking up for Cordelia, "To plainness honour's bound when majesty fails to folly. Reserve thy state and in thy best consideration check this hideous rashness."(II, i, 36-42) Assuming God's duty was Lear's primary downfall. He was King of England because God had put him there, and it was God's decision as to when he should be dismissed. Lear, however, put his fate into his own hands, and attempted to pass on the kingdom himself. It can almost be said that Lear's suffering was God's revenge upon a man who refused the gift of supremacy. Even Lear's fool, who many consider to be Lear's own conscience, tells him that he has been foolish in his decision making:Fool: Though wouldst make a good fool.Lear: To take it again perforce! MonsterIngratitude!Fool: If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'd haveThee beaten for being old before thy time.Lear: How's that?Fool: Thou shouldst not have been old tillThou hadst...

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