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Uncovering The Truth In Shakespeare's King Lear

1453 words - 6 pages

Uncovering the Truth in King Lear

 
   "Only through the loss of our possessions and worldly connections can one truly realize one's inner being" (Confucius). The true nature of man is known but is not commonly seen until adversity strikes. Characters reveal their true nature when they are reduced to nothing. In the play, King Lear, by William Shakespeare, there are three main themes that characters can be reduced by; social status, love and power. Through these three mediums the true nature of the works characters are exposed, by stripping away the innuendo, deceit and superficiality that initially cloaks each character.

 

In the beginning of the play, Cordelia, Gloucester and King Lear all suffer a loss of power, which induces them to show their true nature. Cordelia is stripped of her rightful power and royal inheritance as King Lear's daughter when she pronounces her love for her father. In doing so, her pragmatic and practical character is uncovered. Cordelia protests her truthful and rational feelings towards her love for King Lear when she says, "Unhappy that I am. I cannot heave/ My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty/ According to my bond, no more nor less" (1.1.95-95). Her practicality and rational outlook become obvious when she speaks bluntly and truthfully to Lear. Likewise, Gloucester experiences a severe loss of power. When he is betrayed by Edmund to Regan and Cornwall to be helping Lear and his followers, he is punished with blindness and sent out into the storm alone. While wondering he meets a stranger named Tom who is really Edgar, his legitimate son in disguise: "(I am) A most poor man, made tame to fortune's blows,/ Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,/ Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand;/ I'll lead you to some biding (4.6.219-222). His gullible qualities are then revealed when Edgar describes himself as Tom and Gloucester is convinced that he is a poor beggar who is willing to help him in his time of need. Furthermore, King Lear suffers a loss of power which causes him to reveal his true nature when his powers as King and as a father are departed and he is able to see the innocence behind his daughter, Cordelia's, love for him. He is reunited with Cordelia and instantly compelled to beg for her forgiveness: "We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage./ When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down/ And ask of thee forgiveness. So we'll live,/ And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh..." (5.3.9-12). This is unveils King Lear's truly humble and loving nature. In summary, because Cordelia, Gloucester and King Lear all suffer a loss of power in the play, their true natures are ultimately revealed.

 

What is more, the loss of love and relationships by Cordelia, Edgar and Lear is evident in the play and leads to the unmasking of the characters' true natures. Edgar sees the necessity for love and relationships in one's life to sustain...

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