Humanity In King Lear

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Humanity in King Lear The play King Lear was written in the early sixteen hundreds by William Shakespeare. Despite its age, King Lear is nevertheless a powerful tragedy, which uses many theatrical effects to portray the essence of what it means to be human. Since Lear's characteristics are authoritarian, arrogant and self-centred, Shakespeare displays to the audience what it is like to be human. Since Lear has these characteristics, he banishes Cordelia, his daughters Goneril and Regan betray him and he becomes insane. Lear's arrogant act of banishing his favourite daughter starts the spread of evil in the play until the final ending of retribution and forgiveness are achieved.

In the very first act and scene of this play, Lear banishes his loving daughter Cordelia. Lear planned to live the rest of his life with Cordelia but as Lear tells Kent, "Come not between the dragon and his wrath.

I loved her most, and thought to set my rest on her kind nursery . . . "(I, I, 130-132). When Lear presented to the court that he wished to separate his land, he had everything planed out in a specific order. He knew Cordelia loved him more than his other two daughters. So when Cordelia would not play along with his charade, he became enraged. This rage lead Lear to believe that Cordelia did not really love him so he banished her. Lear in his arrogant manner misinterpreted Cordelia's words. David Horowitz demonstrates this in his book, Shakespeare An Existential View: ...she means the bond in its organic sense: she loves him as her father. What this means, Lear will learn at terrible cost; for it is precisely and poignantly this creative parental bond, a bond which by nature fosters a helpless nothingness into something . . . .(127)...