Samantha White August 2001

King Lear Coursework...

King Lear is the main character in the Shakespearean tragedy also named 'King Lear'.

Shakespeare took the main plot line of an aged monarch, abused by his children from a folk tale that appeared first in written form in the 12th century and was based on spoken stories that originated much further into the Middle Ages.

Through the play King Lear goes through many different personalities, and also he experiences a lot of people sinning against him. While this is so, King Lear also sins against many people too.

In this essay I am going to find out whether King Lear is a man more sinned against than sinning himself. King Lear actually says this in act 3, scene 2, lines 59-62. The quote for this is...

"Hast practised on man's life; close pent-up guilts

Rive your concealing continents, and cry

These dreadful summoners grace, I am a man

More sinned against than sinning"

I am going to look at the sins that King Lear has committed, and also what sins Lear has experienced against himself. Looking at both of these aspects thoroughly I am going to then write a conclusion as to whether I think King Lear is a man more sinned against than sinning.

At the moment I think that King Lear is actually a man more sinned against than sinning. I am firstly going to research all the sins he has committed, and then secondly research all the things that he has had sinned against him. After I have done both of these tasks, I am then going to see whether I still think the above prediction is true...

The first sin Lear committed was that Lear was going to give each of his daughters: Cordelia, Regan and Goneril part of his kingdom if they told him how much they loved him, and to on the whole flatter him.

Because of this, the first sin that King Lear committed then was casting out his own daughter Cordelia who he has said to have had favoured the most out of the three of them as she wouldn't do so. Instead of Cordelia saying she loved Lear, as much as he wanted her to, her answer to his question was,

"According to my bonds".

She means by this that she loves Lear as much as she has to, and no more and no less. The quote where Lear casts her out is in Act 1, scene 1, lines 111-115, and is shown below...

"From whom we do exist and cease to be,

Here I disclaim all my paternal care,

Propinquity and property of blood,

And as a stranger to my heart and me

Hold thee from this for ever."

This quote shows very well that King Lear casts away his daughter Cordelia. Lear is in essence saying here that he doesn't want Cordelia as a daughter anymore, and is going to regard her as a stranger to his heart.

I think that King Lear overreacted a lot in this situation, and it was very petty of him to banish Cordelia just because she wouldn't say how much she loved him, to make him feel good. My first impressions of Lear so far are that he is very selfish, and over reacts in certain situations.

After Lear had banished Cordelia he then says in the play that she was the one he loved the most. I think he says this because he has realised what he has lost by his over reacting nature, and he is finally realising it. The fact that he treats his daughters unequally is the sin in this situation. The reality that he favours Cordelia to Regan and Goneril is a sin, and he shouldn't favour one daughter over another. The quote for Lear loving Cordelia most is in Act 1, scene 1 lines 120-124. The quote is shown below...
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"Come not between the dragon and his wrath.

I loved her most, and though to set my rest

On her kind nursery. Hence, and avoid my sight!

So be my grave my peace, as here I give

Her father's heart from her!"

This quote evidently shows that Lear classes Cordelia as his favourite, and that he loves her the most. Basically he is saying here that he can't believe what he has done.

So favouring one of his daughters was another one of Lear's sins.

The next sin that Lear ...

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