Humility. Lear and Gloucester's JourneyBased on Shakespeare's King Lear. Describe King Lear and Gloucester's journey from arrogance to humility and to eventual wisdom.

Essay by anagurlHigh School, 12th gradeA, November 2002

download word file, 7 pages 4.6

Exposure to human cruelty is a powerful force in changing one's character or outlook on life. This is demonstrated in William Shakespeare's play, King Lear. Throughout the play, it is seen that for a variety of reasons both King Lear and the Earl of Gloucester move from arrogance to humility and finally to wisdom. This pair's arrogance is evident through their gullibility and rash decisions, their humility shown through their loss of power and resulting empathy and lastly, their wisdom displayed through remorse and reconciliation.

Lear and Gloucester begin their journey as egotistical characters. Each of these two possesses great gullibility and allows their arrogance to influence their decision-making abilities. In an attempt to impress his subjects with his popularity, Lear decides to split up his kingdom based on the quality of his daughter's vows of love. Lear feels that because he is King, his daughters would dare not defy him, nor lie to him.

Thus, when Regan and Goneril profess their undying love he fully trusts that they are sincere. It is unfortunate for Lear that he believes solely in his own 'excellent' judgement of character, as it is this overconfident behaviour that leads him into making some uninformed decisions. When it is Cordelia's turn to express her love to her father, she replies, "Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty according to my bond, no more nor less" (1.1.93-95). Lear is absolutely appalled by his daughter's response and decides that he will "disclaim all [his] paternal care, propinquity and property of blood" (1.1.115-116). It is clear that he is most angry with Cordelia because he feels that he deserves a much better declaration, as he is the King. This presumptuous belief causes Lear to exile, perhaps his most worthy...