Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear is a detailed description of
the consequences of one man's decisions. This fictitious man is
Lear, King of England, who's decisions greatly alter his life and
the lives of those around him. As Lear bears the status of King he
is, as one expects, a man of great power but sinfully he surrenders
all of this power to his daughters as a reward for their
demonstration of love towards him. This untimely abdication of his
throne results in a chain reaction of events that send him through
a journey of hell. King Lear is a metaphorical description of one
man's journey through hell in order to expiate his sin.
As the play opens one can almost immediately see that Lear
begins to make mistakes that will eventually result in his
downfall. The very first words that he speaks in the play are :-
'...Give me the map there. Know that we have
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
abdicate his throne. He goes on further to offer pieces of his
kingdom to his daughters as a form of reward to his test of love.
'Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
Long in our court have made their amorous
And here are to be answered. Tell me, my
(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...