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By the end of the first two acts how far do you agree with King Lear’s statement that he is “a man more sinned against that sinning”.

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Introduction

By the end of the first two acts how far do you agree with King Lear's statement that he is "a man more sinned against that sinning". The plot of King Lear sees his two eldest daughters, Gonerill and Regan ruthlessly and cruelly plotting against their father in a bid to rid him of all his remaining power after he has split the Kingdom between them. However, it is not the case that King Lear is an innocent victim, as he is also guilty of initially treating his youngest daughter, Cordelia and most loyal aide, Kent appallingly in the first act when they are banished from the Kingdom. King Lear initially comes across as a very flawed character, he is vain, arrogant and egotistical. He devises a 'love-test' as a means of splitting his Kingdom between his three daughters, Gonerill, Regan and Cordelia. The test is based on all daughters making their declarations of love for Lear, and the one with the most impressive speech, would stand to gain the largest share of the Kingdom. ...read more.

Middle

Cordelia's refusal to engage in his 'love-test' indicates a strong-minded, independent individual and she explains to her father why she will not participate. CORDELIA: I love your majesty. According to my bond, no more nor less. Cordelia's reasonable and admirable behaviour angers her father, and Kent's support of Cordelia only serves to frustrate Lear further and he banishes them both from the Kingdom. Lear's actions in the first scene seem both unnecessarily harsh and irrational and the audience feels a sense of injustice at Cordelia and Kent's banishment, as their behaviour seems more reasonable and honest than the behaviour of Gonerill and Regan. Lear's treatment of Cordelia and Kent does seem appalling, but by the end of the first two acts, it does seem that Lear is more sinned against than sinning. There is an implication in the play that King Lear is slowly losing his mind and his being on the threshold of insanity is a major theme of the play. His seemingly rash behaviour at the beginning of the play only serves to reinforce this notion. ...read more.

Conclusion

At one point the audience hears Gonerill and Regan making their love avowals; a few minutes later, they are speculating on the political threat concealed in Lear's decision to reside with them and are planning to rid him of his remaining power. Gonerill and Regan never portray any remorse or guilt at their treatment of King Lear and plot against him in an effort to drive him away from the Kingdom. However, it could be argued that because Cordelia is their favourite, they could be resentful and jealous of her, but there is not evidence to suggest that Gonerill and Regan were treated any less well than Cordelia. In conclusion, in my opinion it would seem that King Lear is more sinned against than sins. Lear's sins do not seem as extreme as Gonerill and Regan's, and while Lear demonstrates that he sees the error of his ways, Gonerill and Regan never show any remorse, guilt or emotions over their sins. King Lear also is showing signs of losing his sanity, so it could also be argued that he does not have complete control over his actions. CLARE JOYSON ...read more.

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