I am a man more sinned against than sinning King Lear was written by William Shakespeare and is about the tragic story of a royal family in the dark ages,

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Liam Claffey                             4th February 2005

Mr Hines


I am a man more sinned against than sinning

King Lear was written by William Shakespeare and is about the tragic story of a royal family in the dark ages, which is falling apart before our very own eyes. The king of England, King Lear is a glory seeking man finding it through vanity. His mentality deteriorates from a highly respected King to an insane madman.

        Lear fails to cope with the fact that his wealth, power and respect is taken from underneath him by his own family and he tries to identify what and who he is anymore. Lear believes that it is not down to his own by his doing but by other people including two of his three daughters, Regan and Gonerill. They play Lear off against one another trying to out do each other in doing evil, demoralising things to their own father.

The title of this essay occurs in the play when he is the depth of his madness. He is kicked out in the middle of the countryside during Act 3 Scene 2 where he is in the in the middle of a raging storm; he ends up in a in a dilapidated hovel.

The play begins with King Lear having a contest between his three daughters to see which one of them love him the most and giving them bigger shares of the Kingdom. Lear however has already divided his kingdom and this contest is just a pathetic way of showing how much he is loved. His three daughters Regan, Gonerill and Cordellia must say in words how much they love their father. This is where Lear commits his first sin in the play; he is making the three sisters compete against each other for his love and for land. This is because Lear wants to show how much he is admired, loved and cared about by his children to the court.

The children go in age order from oldest to youngest starting with Gonerill telling her love:

“Sir I love you more than word can wield matter,

Dearer than eyesight, space and liberty

Beyond what can be valued rich or are

No less than life, with grace, health beauty and honour;”

Following Gonerill is the second eldest daughter Regan proclaiming:

“Myself an enemy to all other joys

Which the most precious square of sense possesses,

And find I am alone felicitate

In your dear highness love.”

The two sisters proclaim their love for land and wealth, this is not true love they just seek the respect of their father and want to impress him. Gonerill says that word can wield the matter meaning that she can’t speak her love for him but goes on with a exaggerated speech about her love. This is the first sin against Lear as the two women are trying to steal their father’s wealth trying to get a large piece of his kingdom.

        Then the youngest Cordellia stands to speak her love for her father but instead of a large over the top speech she says:

“I cannot heave

My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty

According to my bond, no more, nor less.”

Lear is flabbergasted by his youngest child’s remarks he is so shocked that he asks her two, three times to rephrase her answer but she can’t. She won’t lie to her father’s face like her sisters she always tells the truth and her true feelings.

         Lear is so enraged and furious about Cordellia’s comments he announces to everyone that she is no longer his daughter and gives her inheritance to her sisters.

“Revenue, execution of the rest,

Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm,

This coronet part between you.”

Then as a final display of lack of sensitivity towards his youngest and once dearest child he wishes she had never been born.

“Hadst not been born than not t’have pleased me better.”

Kent, Lear’s most trusted adviser and friend cannot see this happen to Cordellia and protects her. He argues with Lear about his rash actions too.

“Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least

Nor are those empty - hearted whose low sounds

Reverb no hollowness.”

“When my majesty falls to folly. Reserve thy state,

And in thy best consideration check

This hideous rashness. Answer my life, my judgement:

Thy youngest daughter does not thee least,”

Lear still upset about Cordellia and her speech unleashes his wrath on Kent too. He banishes him from the Kingdom giving him 5 days to get out and if seen after that, be killed on sight.

“Five days we do allot thee for provision

To shield thee from disasters of the world,

And on the sixth to turn thy hated back

Upon our Kingdom;”

Join now!

Kent bids a farewell to Lear and the rest of the kingdom and as he is leaving he praises and thanks Cordellia for her honesty but asks and pleads to Regan and Gonerill to tell their true words of love to be Lear. We find out here that Kent knows more about Lear’s three daughters than Lear. Kent says to Cordellia:

‘The gods to their dear shelter take thee,


That justly think’st and hast most rightly said.’

Kent says to Regan and Gonerill:

‘And your large speeches may your

Deeds approve

That good effects may ...

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