King Lear Essay

King Lear Essay

A Poem by Julio Cesar Ruiz
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Im posting this here just incase I cant send my essay through email.

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Julio Ruiz

English 4A

Sandler

King Lear

            There are many characters within the King Lear play, some which commit treachery and deceit and few who only tell the truth but are seen as villains. One such character is Cordelia who tells her father the truth about the measure of her love for him. But the character I have chosen for this character analyzes is King Lear, a man who became old before he became wise. Lear is a character with many faults, one of which is his blindness. But besides that he’s also quick to make rash decisions without giving them much thought. And last he wants to be king without having to rule over the land, to enjoy himself without responsibilities.

 

 

            At the start of the play, Lear shows us his blindness in three ways, one when he chooses to see the world through his ears instead of his eyes, the second when he chooses to act with righteous fury, and third when he refuses to listen to wise counsel. When king Lear asks his daughters “which of you shall we say doth love us most?” This quote comes from the king himself and in it he implies that he wants to hear who will say that they love him most, not who actually loves him most. He wants to hear them flatter him in public, which both Regan and Goneril do in spades. Goneril’s words, “Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter; …Beyond all manner of so much I love you.” certainly portray a deep affection for her father but it begs the question, is such a love possible if it can’t even be measured? Regan is not much different, she says, “Sir, I am made Of the self-same metal that my sister is, and prize me at her worth…only she comes too short:…” she claims to be in the same mind as her sister but that even Goneril did not go far enough, how is it possible to go from immeasurable love to having not gone far enough? Its as if she’s asking to measure infinity, something that’s not possible. And last Cordelia says, “Nothing, my lord…Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty According to my bond; nor more nor less.” she states that she loves him as much as she can love him without lying to him. At this, Lear becomes angry that his favorite daughter will not, in a way, bow to his will. He disowns her claiming that pride will be her dowry, which he believes is the reason she didn’t flatter him like Regan and Goneril. When Kent tries to reason with him, Lear says, “Come not between a dragon and his wrath,” and despite this Kent still argues with the king. This shows us the third way Lear was blind, he refused to see reason and banished his most loyal servant. And because of his blindness, the rest of the play fell into place, leading to many misfortunes for Lear.

 

 

            Arguably, Lear’s blindness could in fact be his biggest fault but his rashness could also take first place. As I said before, because of his anger, he disowned Cordelia because she would not flatter him. He banished Kent because he tried to reason with him for his own sake. When Goneril tries to reduce the number of men that he can have, he curses her with infertility and hardships, “…Into her womb convey sterility…never spring a babe to honour her!”  When Regan agrees with her sister, Lear swears revenge on them that “…will be terrors of the earth.” When he starts to go mad during the storm he shouts at the sky, taunting the storm to get worse. He shouts, “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! You cataracts and hurricanoes,…” all the while the Fool asks him to leave the rain to find shelter. In his grief, Lear forsakes himself to Nature’s wrath claiming that he is a despised old man. He seems to not care about the consequences of him actions, no matter who they affect.


 

            As King Lear is reaching old age, older than Kent who is 48 years old, he wishes to retire and let his daughters take over the land since he has no male heir. His intention was to split the kingdom into three so that they would all be equal but when Cordelia refused to mend her speech, he disowned her and split her inheritance with Goneril and Regan. But even though he gives up his lands and titles, he still wishes to be treated as king. This is shown when Regan and Goneril tell him that he cannot have one hundred men at his disposal, that why would he need so many now that they will take care of him. To this Lear responds, “O, reason not the need: our basest beggars Are in the poorest thing superfluous: Allow not nature more than nature needs, Man's life's as cheap as beast's: thou art a lady; If only to go warm were gorgeous, Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st, Which scarcely keeps thee warm.” he says that he doesn’t need what he wants but as king he wants what he doesn’t need. Its his way of keeping his identity of kingship despite the fact that he already gave that up. This just shows us that he still wants to be treated as king even though he’s no longer the king.


 

            King Lear acts like a spoiled brat at the start of the play which makes him unsympathetic as a character. His misfortunes were caused by his own hand; he refused to see the truth when it was presented to him, he acted rashly when angered, and he gave on his responsibility, his identity as king to enjoy himself. He truly is a piece of work and I honestly wonder how Cordelia could still come back for him after everything that he’s done and let happen. Yet despite all this, I do feel some sympathy toward him though its limited. King Lear is the reason this play was written, not just because its named after him but because his actions started the domino effect chain of events that occurred in the play. Except for Edmund betraying his father and brother, that happened on its own.

© 2010 Julio Cesar Ruiz


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Added on December 20, 2010
Last Updated on December 20, 2010

Author

Julio Cesar Ruiz
Julio Cesar Ruiz

Hollister, CA



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