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King Lear Essay

Uploaded by tazza103 on May 26, 2000

In Act 1, Scene 1 Kent says, "See better, Lear."
How does Lear ‘see’ more clearly by Act V Scene 3, and what has led him to this?


King Lear of Britain, the ageing protagonist in Shakespeare’s tragic play undergoes radical change as a man, father and king as the plot progresses when forced to bear the repercussions of his actions. Lear is initially portrayed as being an egotistical ruler, relying on protestations of love from his daughters to apportion his kingdom. 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 wrongfully disowns his youngest and most truthful daughter Cordelia, preferring his elder daughters, Regan and Goneril, because of an eagerness to be flattered, and they ironically turn out to be evil. 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. Lear loses his sanity when he cannot cope with the insensitive treatment from his two elder daughters. His madness is a learning experience, as he realises his earlier mistakes in the play, including his mistreatment of Cordelia. When he does regain sanity, he is a much wiser and enhanced man, father and king.

Kent, one of Lear’s followers, is the first person to directly tell the King that he has made mistakes concerning the partition of his sovereignty. Unlike Lear who shows blindness in judgement and lack of paternal knowledge of his daughters, Kent is able to see through the superficiality of the elder daughters’ confessions of love. He believes that Cordelia is wronged when she receives nothing and is exiled, and condemns the King for his actions "When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom". Kent believes the King is blind of the consequences of his decisions, voicing "See better, Lear". Lear displays intense outrage at Kent, "Come not between the dragon and his wrath", and later says "The bow is bent and drawn; make from the shaft", indicating he does not want his authority to be challenged. Kent is shown to be faithful to Lear by confronting him about his sins, and like Cordelia is banished because of his honesty.

The Fool in the play serves as Lear’s conscience and social commentator, conveying...

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Uploaded by:   tazza103

Date:   05/26/2000

Category:   King Lear

Length:   8 pages (1,737 words)

Views:   1649

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