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King Lear Essay, Research Paper

King Lear

The misjudgment of their offspring leaves King Lear and Gloucester favoring the wrong children. Because they favored the evil, disloyal children, King Lear and Gloucester both undergo great personal suffering caused by Regan, Goneril, and Edmund. Cordelia and Edgar, the children whom they reject as worthless and disloyal, are really the representatives of all that is good and loyal in the world.

At a public ceremony before dividing his kingdom among his three daughters, King Lear asks his children to tell him how much they love him. Lear?s ungrateful, oldest daughters, Regan and Goneril, embellish their answers of love for their father leaving him to believe that their love for him is so great that it leaves no room for them to love their husbands. As the eldest-born, speaking first, Goneril says:

Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;

Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;

Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;

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

As much as child e’er loved, or father found;

A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;

Beyond all manner of so much I love you. (I.i.60-67)

Having been satisfied by his daughter?s remark, Lear then has his second oldest daughter prove her love. In doing so, Regan elaborates on the answer Goneril gave by saying that she loves Lear more that Goneril. Lear is pleased by their ?devotion?. While Lear?s youngest daughter Cordelia tells her father that she loves him as her father and the leader of the country, but she honestly says that she will love her husband as well. Cordelia states:

Good my lord,

You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I

Return those duties back as are right fit,

Obey you, love you, and most honour you.

Why have my sisters? husbands, if they say

They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,

That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry

Half my love with him, half my care and duty:

Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters,

To love my father all. (I.i.105-114)

Her unembellished remark angers Lear. Not understanding what she said correctly, Lear judges Cordelia to be impudent, then he disinherits and disowns her. After doing this, Lear then divides his kingdom up between his two remaining daughters. Before long, Lear makes his first visit to Goneril and her husband, Duke of Albany. There, he is made to feel unwelcome. With her newfound power, Goneril strips her father of his men, disempowering him, and takes away fifty of his knights. A disgusted Lear curses her and leaves with his remaining knights to his other daughter, Regan?s castle. Before Lear arrived at the castle of Regan and her husband, Duke of Cornwall, Goneril sent a message to her sister telling her of the fight that she had with their father and his impending visit to her castle. In an effort to avoid the visit form her father, Regan and her husband ride to the castle of the Duke of Gloucester. When he did not find Regan at her castle, Lear then sent his messenger, Kent, to send word of his arrival to Gloucester. Outside of the walls of Gloucester, Kent quarrels with Oswald, Goneril?s steward. The two of them create a racket and because of Kent?s outrageous behavior he is put in the stocks. Mortified by the treatment of his messenger, Lear begins an argument with Regan. As the argument begins, Goneril arrives and joins forces with her sister. They begin to humiliate their father and deprive him of his remaining knights. A tormented Lear now regrets his treatment of hid youngest daughter Cordelia. Having been disowned and without a dowry, Cordelia is taken in by the King of France who realizes her true worth and makes her his wife and the Queen of France.

Another scene of disinheritance takes place at Gloucester Castle. In this instance, Edmund, the illegitimate son of Gloucester, convinces Gloucester that his real son, Edgar, is plotting to kill him. Edmund then persuades Edgar to flee the castle. In Edgar?s absence Gloucester declares him to be an outlaw and makes Edmund the heir to his title and property. Gloucester then hears about the scorned King Lear and confides in Edmund that he is going to help Lear. Edmund, soon afterward, betrays his father?s intentions to Regan and Cornwall. As a result, Gloucester is arrested and is cruelly blinded by Cornwall. Meanwhile, Edgar is disguising himself as ?Poor Tom? and is hiding out from his father?s anger over his ?betrayal?.

After being abandoned by their supposed ?good and loyal children?, the real good and loyal children later on took in King Lear and Gloucester. Under his youngest daughters Cornelia?s care, King Lear recovers his senses. But because Edmund secretly sentenced Cordelia and King Lear to death, King Lear dies broken-hearted over the dead body of his only beloved daughter. Gloucester is also taken in by his son Edgar and is lead to safety on his way where later he will become the worthy new ruler of England.

Before realizing the error in their ways, both fathers undergo great personal suffering. King Lear suffers personally with the loss of his kingdom and with being humiliated and striped of his power and men. Gloucester also suffers personally with the loss of his sight by having his eyes gouged out. In spite of the horrible treatment they receive from the evil, disloyal children, both Cordelia and Edgar stand by their fathers and forgive then for the injustices that they have suffered.


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