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"I am a man more sinn'd against than sinning." Who is to blame for the tragedy of "King Lear"?

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Introduction

"I am a man more sinn'd against than sinning." Who is to blame for the tragedy of "King Lear"? "King Lear" is a play very much based around the theme of tragedy and suffering. A lot of this tragedy is inflicted upon the King himself, and, at first glance, it would appear that he brings it upon himself. However, when one delves further into the mysteries surrounding this character one can see how it would be possible for Lear to be punished beyond reason with all of the torment that he has to endure. There are several candidates who could be blamed for the tragedy, and few of them escape actually feeling some of the pain. Gonerill and Regan are designed to be the sadistic and evil characters in the play. It is clear we are expected to have little or no sympathy for them. They also mete out the vast proportion of the misery on the other characters. However, one must ask, do they actually start the tragic ball rolling, or, are they merely a tool of the tragedy? Of course, they do take the anguish to a higher level than necessary. As soon as they enter the play, we understand them to be sly, cunning and subversive as they participate in Lear's egotistical and foolish love-test only in the search of material gain and power. They are very loving towards Lear when this gain is in the offing, but as soon as it is achieved, their true characters ...read more.

Middle

Cordelia's character gives Lear reason to understand love and happiness, but because he has not being educated to the contrary, he believes that she is impertinent and unloving. He believes supporter to mean that a one should always agree with him, never questioning his opinions, views or actions. Kent shows Lear his mistakes, that his "power to flattery bows," and highlights his "hideous rashness." His reward for such help is exile, but because he is a loyal subject of the king, he supports him under a new guise, that of Caius. Lear quickly loses control of himself and the country after losing Cordelia and Kent by his own faults. When he looks to Gonerill and Regan for help, he is quickly made aware of his errors in trusting them, but blames these two sisters for all of his mistakes. However, as Lear wanders through the wilderness, he is 'educated' by the Fool, who reveals to him all of the mistakes that he has made, but indirectly rather than telling him straight out, as he knows that Lear will scold him for such insolence. In III6, Lear instigates a mock trial of Gonerill and Regan with the Fool and a madman as the judges. This scene represents Lear's final slip into madness and when on line 81 he suggests that they should "go to supper i'the morning," one can see that the entire world has been turned upside down. ...read more.

Conclusion

We are inspired to feel sympathy for him as he deemed to be a lesser human through no fault of his own. This pity is quickly quashed, because he decides to take his revenge through foul means rather than fair. He can be grouped with Regan and Gonerill in that he takes his wants too far and is doomed by his own actions. In difference to the Lear's daughters, he creates this particular tragedy himself, and is not a victim of convenient circumstance. His forming of the suffering to inflict on his father and brother is amplified when he brings about an alliance with Gonerill and Regan, creating more torment than even he could have imagined. Unlike Gonerill and Regan, Edmund is does not kill himself and as he is killed by the person he had so persecuted, he recognises and admits to his mistakes. This shows that although he can be blamed for this particular section of the tragedy, this misery is bought to a close because the characters involved are exonerated and the deeds righted. In conclusion, it is difficult to blame any particular characters for the suffering caused during the tragedy. Because Gonerill, Regan and Edmund inflicted the torment, it would seem fitting to blame them for all that has happened. However, it is clear that they were but into the position to cause such events by the attitudes, actions and arrogance of Lear and, to a lesser extend, Gloucester, so these two characters should also take a large share of the blame. ...read more.

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