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"I am a man more sinned against than sinning": III

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Introduction

"I am a man more sinned against than sinning": III.2.59-60 How far do you agree with King Lear's statement? King Lear is undoubtedly an extremely complex character, neither all good nor all bad. From the beginning of the play, it is not difficult for the audience to identify his severe misjudgement. King Lear has decided to retire and to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, with his intention being to prevent future conflict. The decision seems rather unwise, as it could quite easily invite war between the heirs to the throne. A Shakespearean audience would immediately recognize this having been on the verge of Civil war following the death of Queen Elizabeth I. It could be said therefore, that Lear is not more sinned against than sinning, because his rash resolution is followed with unnecessary death and sheer anarchy. This is not King Lear's only error. As a ruler, he has several faults in his character. Firstly, his egotism causes untold damage at the beginning of the play. This is evident to the audience when instead of simply dividing his land evenly amongst his three daughters, he asks for the three of them to profess their love to him first. ...read more.

Middle

However, there is indeed evidence shortly after these comments to show that Lear regrets his actions: - "I did her wrong". This suggests the possibility that perhaps King Lear is more human than the audience initially thought and that there is hope for Lear in this predicament. The pivotal scene in the change of character of Lear is Act III, Scene 2, when he seemingly loses all grasp of reality upon the heath. At first, it is clear that Lear is talking to the weather. It is indefinite as to how a Shakespearean audience would react to this scene, or the tone that would be used in the production, although it could be likely to be accepted as comedy as a madman was thought of as hilarious. Certainly, what is true is that Lear's position as King has faded into nothingness. However, by releasing his inner anger, this madness becomes somewhat of a learning process for Lear. "I am a man, more sinned against, than sinning." Although he admits that he has done wrong, Lear feels his punishment is more than he deserves. When Kent tries to make Lear seek shelter, he reveals that he is more concerned about the Fool than about himself. ...read more.

Conclusion

From the beginning of the play, the audience learns that Gloucester had committed adultery. Furthermore, he also misjudges his sons, in the same way Lear does with his daughters. Other than this, Gloucester does not do very much wrong, which makes it seem that Gloucester, if anybody, is more sinned against than sinning. Putting the play in its historical context, however, adultery was a serious offence and a severe punishment may perhaps have been seen as the appropriate action. Even so, he certainly suffers more than Lear. One cannot help but feel sympathetic towards King Lear in his times of misery and madness, but there is always the shadow of his earlier egotistical antics that resulted in carnage. It is true that Lear has caused his own woes, but it seems that his problems allowed him to die a man with a soul of greater substance. This is a result of the madness and suffering, when a King becomes a man and understands concerns and needs of others. He also partly gains redemption in reuniting with Cordelia and accepting culpability, to a certain degree. Perhaps King Lear is "more sinned against than sinning" and perhaps deservedly so, but it is true that he died having learnt important lessons and so his suffering was surely not in vain. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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