• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Self discovery in King Lear

Extracts from this document...


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE King Lear section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE King Lear essays

  1. King Lear - Lear Exclaims in Act 3 That He is "More Sinned Against ...

    He has reversed the natural order by showing concern for the fool's suffering above his own. This tenderness may be the beginning of Lear's redemption. Lear will not follow the fool into the hovel. He welcomes the storm as a diversion from his inner turmoil.

  2. King lear

    The two plots are at their closet when Lear is sent out into the storm and Edgar kicked out by his father comes back disguised as poor Tom, the two characters interact even though Lear is real madness and poor Tom is fake madness.

  1. How Does Lear change throughout the play?

    Lear in the storm is a very huge change in Lear's life. The reconciliation of Lear shows Lear in his true form as a king. When Lear first see Cordelia he kneels in front of her. This symbolizes that he is ashamed and humbled.

  2. Character Analyses - King Lear

    The Fool shares his master's fate, and this reinforces the impression that the Fool's purpose is to protect Lear until Cordelia can arrive to help her father. Both Cordelia and the Fool are caretakers for Lear, and when one is present, the other need not be.

  1. A Consideration of the way Shakespeare presents and develops the theme of blindness in ...

    During his time on the heath, Lear considers those things which he selfishly paid little attention to whilst he had power. These things are still relevant today, and relate to the wretched condition of the poor, the corrupt justice system and true necessity.

  2. 'I am a man more sinned against than sinning' III.2.59-60 To what extent do ...

    Such irrationality, Lear's banishment and disownment of not one but two genuine and rational characters signify to the audience that such evils cannot go unchecked, and Lear will experience great sufferings for his foolish behaviour in the future. It is this behaviour in Scene 1, that we can say is Lear's biggest sin.

  1. Discuss the notion of madness in King Lear.

    the phrase, 'The art of our necessities is strange, And can make vile things precious' as for Lear, necessities make things that once appeared so evil look precious. Lear tells Kent to take shelter first himself and this proves that the king starts understanding himself and others better.

  2. An Analysis of the Role of Comedy in Shakespeares Great Tragedy King Lear

    with Cordelia at the end of the play restores his mind and some sanity once again. Clearly, incongruity permeates this play. The incongruity in itself is essentially comic because it is odd and unexpected. The natural human reaction to something out of place or incongruous is to laugh but it can also lend us to cry, which corresponds with G.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work