An analysis of the theme of justice in 'King Lear'.

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An analysis of the theme of justice in ‘King Lear’.

By Alex Piper.

Justice is a balance of misfortune and good fortune; right and wrong according to motives and circumstances of the individuals under judgement.  To be just we must consider why they did it and balance out all the evidence and facts and decide on a punishment depending on these. Types of justice that exist in society include criminal justice, legal justice, vigilante justice, natural justice and divine justice.

As King Lear is a brutal play, filled with human cruelty and many awful disasters, the play’s terrible events raise an obvious question for the characters, namely whether there is any possibility of justice in the world.

Various characters offer their opinions.  Towards the end of the play Gloucester says:

"As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; / they kill us for their sport,"

Here, he has realized it is foolish for humankind to assume that the natural world works in parallel with social or moral justice because ultimately, the gods will do with us what they will regardless of whether or not it is just. , on the other hand, insists that: "the gods are just," optimistically believing that individuals must ultimately get what they deserve. However, in the end, we are left with only a terrifying uncertainty; although the wicked die, the good die along with them, leaving us with the awful image of  cradling 's body in his arms unable to accept the fact that she has suffered such an inexplicable injustice. There is goodness in the world of the play, but there is also madness, evil and death, and it is difficult to tell which triumphs in the end.  The purpose of this essay is to examine the suffering and the learning journey Lear goes through in order to decide how Shakespeare deals with the theme of justice in one of his greatest tragedies.

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Clearly, King Lear’s idea to divide the land is the wrong decision as it is the gods who decide through divine right who is next to be king or queen.  For this attempt to undermine the gods, it is obvious that Lear should be punished and, surely enough, the consequence is he is betrayed by two of his daughters and loses everything, thus, in a way, justice is served and he gets what he deserves.

As the play opens one can almost immediately see that Lear begins to make mistakes that will eventually Result in his downfall. The very first ...

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