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Self discovery in King Lear

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Self- Discovery in King Lear Although King Lear is an estimable monarch, as revealed by the devotion of men such as Kent, he has numerable character flaws. His power as king has encouraged him to be conceited and impulsive, as his oldest daughters Regan and Goneril reflect, "The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash..." and that "he hath ever but slenderly known himself" (Act 1 Scene 1). When Lear decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters, Cordelia, Goneril, and Regan in order to have less responsibility in his old age, he creates a situation in which his eldest daughters gain authority and mistreat him, and his youngest is criticised for not accentuating her love. Lear is unable to cope with his loss of power and descends into madness. While the circumstances in which Lear finds himself are instrumental in the unfolding of this tragedy, it is ultimately not the circumstances themselves, but King Lear's rash reactions to them that lead to his downfall. In this downfall, Lear is forced to come to terms with himself as a nothing but a mortal man. Through the course of the play, King Lear goes through a process of attaining self-knowledge, or true vision of one's self and the world. ...read more.


This is a rather unpleasant statement to say to your own daughter. In fact he continues to suggest that if she should have children, let them be 'perverse and unnatural'. The turning point for the King is when he is in the storm; this represents a pathetic fallacy as the disposition of Lear reflects the atrocious weather. It is through his anger over his last confrontation with his family that the power of the storm begins the process of transition within Lear. This change which at heart is a change of vision (this is true for most of the characters in this play). What must change is how Lear perceives himself, his children, and the society around him. At the beginning of Lear's period in the storm, he is identifying the treachery of his daughters Regan and Goneril. This creates the antagonism within him. He expresses his anger by trying to coax the storm to be more ferocious to him. Lear says that since those who owe him everything are so harmful to him, why shouldn't the storm, which owes him nothing, be any less? However it is also here that Lear begins to see himself not as the omnipotent king, but as a poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man. ...read more.


During Act 3 Scene 2, he had asked Kent, the Fool, and Edgar to "come unbutton here." The self-discovery of Lear is not just the discovery of one man's self, but the discoveries of everyone down the chain. While Cordelia teaches her father a majestic lesson of unconditional and paternal love, his other daughters, Regan and Goneril, educate Lear about greed and the hunger for power. The Fool acts as the prodding, intuitive voice of reason, sparking the King to think critically of his own actions; yet the lessons Gloucester provides of arrogance quite closely parallel to the problems Lear sustains. Kent also plays a vital role in educating this former king in the disciplines of loyalty and respect, for he is the only character to stay by Lear's side, even if it means by death. These lessons are not new to Lear; it is obvious that these qualities have escaped him only after many years of rule. Nonetheless, Lear finds himself reduced to a mere man and who is yearning to get back in touch with his sanity. It is the subordinate characters in King Lear that assist with the extensive subject of self- discovery. Word Count: 1567 ?? ?? ?? ?? Alessandra Anzante Mr Fielding ...read more.

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