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King Lear - Lear Exclaims in Act 3 That He is "More Sinned Against Than Sinner". Do You Agree With This Assessment Of Himself?

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Lear Exclaims in Act 3 That He is "More Sinned Against Than Sinner". Do You Agree With This Assessment Of Himself? Justice and judgment are key themes in King Lear. The first act shows how Lear treats his beloved Cordelia and his faithful servant Kent with unjustifiable banishment. As the play continues we become aware that Lear becomes a victim of injustice at the hands of Goneril and Regan. To explore Lear's statement that he is "more sinned against than sinner" we need to examine some key moments in the play and examine if Lear is an offender or victim of injustice and whether in his madness he has redeemed himself. The first words we hear Lear speak reflect his presence and powerful personality. This is a king that commands respect and expects all to jump at his command. He barks his abrupt order at Gloucester "Attend the lords of France and Burgundy" (1/1/29) As we read further into Act 1 Scene 1 we learn he is a demanding father and commands love from his daughters the same way he commands his subjects. When his beloved Cordelia refuses to bestow on him an extravagant declaration of love he flies into a terrible rage and disclaims "All paternal care" (1/1/107) When his loyal servant Kent attempts to intervene on Cordelia's behalf he too is banished. Lear is not used to being contradicted and on his own admittance he tells Kent to "come not between the dragon and his wrath" (1/1/116). ...read more.


They have driven him out into the storm hoping this will bring about his death. King Lear's death would ensure that he did not attempt to reclaim his throne and land. In the last of his powerful kingly speeches he raves at the storm and calls for an end to "ingratful man" (3/2/9) It is here that he first admits and despairs at his own foolish folly as a "poor, infirm, weak and despised old man"(3/2/19) However he is still obsessed with ingratitude and this forces him into metaphorical blindness. He cannot see life as a whole. Kent, the fool and Cordelia are not ungrateful. The theme of divine justice and the images of the last judgement are perpetuated as Lear calls on the god's to "find out their enemies" and destroy them. Lear has no fear of the god's wrath as he feels he is a victim, "a man more sinned against than sinning" (3/2/58) He bears the suffering of the storm with impassive dignity. "No, I will be the pattern of all patience. I will say nothing." (3/2/36) Lear's pivotal turning point comes as we see him for the first time show compassion for fellow humans. He shows for the first time an extraordinary tenderness for the fool. "poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart/That's sorry for thee"(3/2/70) He ushers the fool into the hovel urging "in boy, go first" the irony is that by humbling himself he is lifted spiritually. ...read more.


They dishonoured him, humiliated him and stripped him of his power. They locked their doors and let an old man face the ravages of a storm. Finally, they plotted and schemed to kill him. The source of their evil is in their absence of love or respect for their father. They set their own self-interests and ambitions above any traditional bonds. Once they have the power they desired they have no further interest in Lear .He is simply a nuisance and gets in the way. In the tender scene of reconciliation, Act 4 Scene 6, Cordelia's speech before Lear awakes, emphasises the extent to which Lear has been a victim at the hands of Goneril and Regan: "..and let this kiss/ repair those violent harm that my two sisters / Have in thy reverence made." (4/6/27) When Lear awakes, both he and Cordelia attempt to kneel. She is honouring her king and he is begging her forgiveness. Lear now understands how limited his understanding is. Finally, Is King Lear more sinned against than sinner? It is clear that the answer is yes. King Lear is as much of a victim as he is perpetrator. Furthermore, King Lear through his suffering and madness was able to redeem his own sins and gain the forgiveness of Cordelia. He has clearly learnt to love unconditionally. Goneril and Regan on the other hand have through their own sins of avarice and ambition brought about their own self-destruction. Beverley Fielden Access Literary Studies 1 ...read more.

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