King Lear by Shakespeare

Essay by heylucy803University, Bachelor'sA, April 2005

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In Shakespeare's play King Lear, the main character is King Lear, who starts off as a respected and powerful king. As the story progresses the king loses his power because of his own stupidity and blindness. Throughout the play, Shakespeare shows that sight does not just come from the eyes. The tragedy of this play is shown through the daughters of the king, the fool, and finally when King Lear's sanity is tested.

King Lear opens with a conversation between the earls of Kent and Gloucester, in which we learn that Gloucester has two sons: Edgar, who is his legitimate heir, and Edmond, his younger illegitimate son. At the beginning of the play, King Lear is powerful and harsh. He announces that he intends to remove himself from the king's duties and concerns. He will divide his kingdom into three shares, to be given to his daughters, as determined by their declarations of love for him.

When Lear asks his daughters who loves him the most, he thinks it will be Cordelia, the youngest daughter. First, Goneril lies when she tells her father how much she adores him followed by Regan who proclaims her love is even greater than her sisters. When Cordelia says, "I love your majesty/According to my bond, no more nor less" (Ii.91-93); Lear cannot see past the words, all he hears is the words, not the meaning behind them. He does not hear the words with his heart. The king was very upset with Cordelia and because of his anger and disappointment, he divided his kingdom equally between Goneril and Regan, and banishes Cordelia leaving her dowerless. The King of France decided he would marry Cordelia without a dowry. Giving the land to his two daughters was the first of Lear's mistakes, for...