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King Lear: a tragedy caused by arrogance, rash decisions and poor judgement of character.

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Introduction

Jamie Keogh English King Lear: a tragedy caused by arrogance, rash decisions and poor judgement of character. Shakespeare lays out the fate of all the characters in Ling Lear within the first scene of the play, leaving no doubt in the audience's mind that a terrible mistake is taking place, because of the way other characters react, Kent for example. Ironically the king states his wish "that future strife be prevented" by his division of the kingdom between his three daughters on declarations of their love. He is both na�ve and vain in believing that carving up his kingdom in this way will create anything other than rivalry and disaster. Two of his daughters, Goneril and Regan, are prepared to flatter him because they both have ambitions for power and wealth, while the youngest, Cordelia, will not exaggerate her true feelings: that of a loving daughter, "I love your majesty according to my bond: nor more nor less." ...read more.

Middle

And Regan declares she is "an enemy to all other joys". Cordelia reacts fearfully in an aside "Then poor Cordelia," but determines to be honest. Lear, of course is blind to this, highly delighted with Goneril and Regan's unrealistic praise, he judges Cordelia's simple statement more as insult than proper emotion from a daughter. The play starts with the decisive moment, the carving up of a kingdom. But we get a good idea of what it was like before. Kent speaks passionately about his loyalty to the king, " Loved as my father," and "Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak, when power to flattery bows?" This signals to the audience the king's error and complete lack of judgement against someone with a history of obedience and trustworthiness. ...read more.

Conclusion

The play's subplot of the sons of Gloucester explores similar themes of jealousy, betrayal, greed and revenge, where those in a position of power and authority are easily fooled and quick to judge. Gloucester is as ready to believe his son conspires against him, as Lear is to believe that Cordelia lacks devotion. They both choose to trust their lying offspring instead. Ultimately every character is destined to suffer because of the above misjudgements. Lear himself only begins to think of others after he loses everything but it is too late then to alter what he has done. He becomes wise to his own faults and selfish decisions, but only when he is made humble by poverty, only when he realises the mistake he made with his daughter, Cordelia, who forgives him. This is Shakespeare's strongest message of the play: how to measure what really is worthwhile. ...read more.

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