King Lear

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King lear Assignment

English OAC

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 47-53)

This is the first and most significant of the many sins that he

makes in this play. By abdicating his throne to fuel his ego he is

disrupts the great chain of being which states that the King must

not challenge the position that God has given him. This

undermining of God's authority results in chaos that tears apart

Lear's world. Leaving him, in the end, with nothing. Following

this Lear begins to banish those around him that genuinely care for

him as at this stage he cannot see beyond the mask that the evil

wear. He banishes Kent, a loyal servant to Lear, and his youngest

and previously most loved daughter Cordelia. This results in Lear

surrounding himself with people who only wish to use him which

leaves him very vulnerable attack. This is precisely what happens

and it is through this that he discovers his wrongs and amends


Following the committing of his sins, Lear becomes abandoned

and estranged from his kingdom which causes him to loose his sanity.

While lost in his grief and self-pity the fool is introduced to

guide Lear back to the sane world and to help find the lear that

was ounce lost behind a hundred Knights but now is out in the open

and scared like a little child. The fact that Lear has now been

pushed out from behind his Knights is dramatically represented by

him actually being out on the lawns of his castle. The terrified

little child that is now unsheltered is dramatically portrayed by

Lear's sudden insanity and his rage and anger is seen through the

thunderous weather that is being experienced. All of this

contributes to the suffering of Lear due to the gross sins that he

has committed.

The pinnacle of this hell that is experienced be Lear in order

to repay his sins is at the end of the play when Cordelia is

killed. Lear says this before he himself dies as he cannot live

without his daughter.

'Howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones.

Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so

That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone

for ever!

I know when one is dead, and when one lives.

She's dead as earth. Lend me a looking glass.

If that her breath will mist or stain the


Why, then she lives.'

(Act V, Sc iii, Ln 306-312)

All of this pain that Lear suffered is traced back to the

single most important error that he made. The choice to give up

his throne. This one sin has proven to have massive repercussions

upon Lear and the lives of those around him eventually killing

almost all of those who were involved. And one is left to ask

one's self if a single wrong turn can do this to Lear then what

difficult corner lies ahead that may cause similar alterations in

one's life.