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King Lear - A man more sinned against than sinning?

Uploaded by Natasha69 on Dec 04, 2004

King Lear

“I am a man more sinned against than sinning”

To what extent do you agree with Lear’s statement above? Discuss Lear’s role in the play and explore his journey from tyrant to humility and death.


A question that is often asked in relation to King Lear, “Is Lear a man more sinned against than sinning?” Firstly, there can be little doubt in anyone’s mind that Lear is a man with many flaws. It is also important to consider that the entire predisposition of the play is to cause the reader to discount Lear’s failings and to regard him with compassion, sympathy and understanding:

“Royal Lear,
Whom I have ever honoured as my king,
Loved as my father, as my master followed
As my great patron thought on in my prayers.”

One major factor in Shakespeare’s portrayal of Lear is that all the characters we admire look on the King’s situation from his perspective, and this is clearly what Shakespeare wants us to do also. We are compelled to see Lear as a man “more sinned against than sinning”. Lear inspires great loyalty; Cordelia, Kent, the Fool and Gloucester all risk their lives to aid Lear. They stand by him even when he rejects them. They recognise the good in him and serve to remind us of it. His faults and failings are not the things we are invited to concentrate on.

But, however much Shakespeare tries to magnify Lear’s accomplishments, I find it hard not to see his faults. 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 false love towards him. This untimely abdication of his throne results in a chain reaction of events that send him through a journey of hell.

Lear’s tragic flaw is the division of his kingdom and his inability to see the true natures of people because of his pride while his scathing anger is also shown to override his judgement. He displays inadequacies as a father through lack of knowledge concerning the true characters of all his daughters, and as King through the sudden dividing of his land. The sins committed against Lear are as a result of his personal faults of rashness, blindness, and foolishness.

In my opinion, up to the point where Lear states that he...

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Uploaded by:   Natasha69

Date:   12/04/2004

Category:   King Lear

Length:   8 pages (1,811 words)

Views:   14294

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