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'Lear is more sinned against than sinning'

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Introduction

'Lear is more sinned against than sinning'. How far do you agree? From first view of the play 'King Lear', it appears that Lear has caused, either directly or indirectly, the sins against him as well as sinned himself. At the beginning, Lear himself brought about the separation of his family with his love trial: 'Which of you shall we say doth love us most?'. Here, Lear sins against his whole family. His very unpredictable, easily aggravated temper causes him to act wrongly and irrationally towards Cordelia; he disowns his own favourite daughter, a punishment taken very seriously in Jacobean England. Also, Lear banishes Kent for arguing Cordelia's injustice; a sin committed by Lear towards his most noble, honest and trustworthy companion. Lear, in Act 1 scene 4, again declares his fury and incontrollable temper, attacking Goneril with verbal abuse as he feels that she has behaved worse than Cordelia: 'O most small fault, How ugly didst thou Cordelia show!'. ...read more.

Middle

this disruption of Jacobean natural and social order would be even more shocking and unacceptable to a Jacobean audience as women of this period were of a low status in the social system and were expected to respect and acre for their parents and family. In contrast to this, Goneril and Regan actually emasculate Lear and diminish his power by cooperating together, against him. This is developed slowly, firstly by just treating Lear with less respect until they eventually shut the door behind Lear when he is faced with a terrible storm, showing brutal and uncaring characteristics. Their cruelty towards him still continues to progress, suggesting Lear is more sinned against than sinning. The theme of filial ingratitude is strong and consistent throughout 'King Lear' and the mental turmoil this causes Lear implies that he may feel more sinned against than sinning because he is emotionally pained: 'This tempest in my mind....Filial ingratitude!' On the other hand, Lear's selfishness, insecurity and instability caused him to start the diminishment of his power and to receive mistreatment off his daughters. ...read more.

Conclusion

He seems still unaware that he is partly responsible for any suffering he has experienced .however, this can be argued against as, previously during the same scene, Lear accepts that the heavens have joined with his daughters in punishing him; 'With two pernicious daughters join.' This can be interpreted as Lear contradicting himself because he is accepting that he has sinned and deserves some sort of punishment. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that Lear's claim to be a 'man more sinned against than sinning' is a fair assessment of Lear. Although Lear has caused a lot of pain between the more noble characters in the play, he, like a traditional tragic hero, has suffered unfairly and unreasonably, and has been mistreated a great deal more than is justifiable. His selfish, instable behaviour at first makes Lear appear very sinning, yet as the play progresses it is apparent that Lear receives much more ill-treatment than he is deserving, thus provoking sympathy from the audience as a tragic hero. From this point of perspective, Lear has certainly received more transgression than he has presented. Aimee Davies ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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