Free Essay About King Lear
Cordelia says to her father: “Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your majesty according to my bond; no more nor less“ (1.1.90–92). Children and parents in this play ask for a formal acknowledgment of love towards one another. That is the root of all evil that occurs. Cordelia is an honest person who loves with her heart and shows that through her actions. On the other side, her sisters speak in a flattering manner, but their hearts are full of greed and envy.
In „King Lear“ there is the relationship between King Lear and his daughters and the relationship between Gloucester and his sons. Their fates are similar. In both cases a tragic end brings a new beginning and a hope for a brighter future. Shakespeare shows that bad people die because of bad deeds and that good people die also because of being involved in malevolent schemes of the villains.
On one side, there is Cordelia and her father King Lear, and on the other side there are the other two daughters, Goneril and Regan. Cordelia is thruthful and her sisters are deceitful. However, being naïve, King Lear falls prey to his own flesh and blood and disinherits his only loving child. In this play bad judgement leads to poor decisions, which lead to disaster.
There is also the relationship between Gloucester and his sons. His illegitimate son, Edmund plots against him all the time, while his legitimate son, Edgar, has no idea of what his brother is capable of. There is a parallel between King Lear and Gloucester and between their children.
Cordelia says that she loves her father „according to her bond“ which means that she owes him respect being her father and the king. She sees it as her duty and responsibility without questioning it. King Lear sees it as his responsibility to divide his kingdom among his daughters. Therefore he wants the proof of their love. Goneril and Regan are good at flattery, so they easily make their sister look like a betrayer. Despite having loved her the most, King Lear expells Cordelia from his kingdom. The King of France marries her because he sees her qualities as a human.
King Lear seems to be immature because of his actions. He divides his wealth between two manipulators. Their female and gentle physiques cover psyhological flaws. It turns out that King Lear failed as a father and that was his main responsibility. His right was to divide the kingdom and he did it recklessly. However, fortune interfered and the youngest daughter wasn't left without protection.
Edmund says: „Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land. Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund as to the legitimate. Fine word—“legitimate”! Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed, and my invention thrive, Edmund the base shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper.Now, gods, stand up for bastards!” (1.2.1–22). Edmund wants to inherit everything. His jealousy and flaws in his character made him do wrong to the people closest to him, his father and his brother. They were also naïve as King Lear and therefore didn’t expect him to plot against them. Gloucester admitted that he loved his sons equally, but Edmund always suffered for being illegitimate. He wasn’t the father’s true heir. He tricked both Edgar and Gloucester and turned them against each other. False letters play a significant role in his plans. Edgar is obsessed to become the legitimate heir although Gloucester gave him all the rights and privileges. Edmund never felt loved enough and he believed that his goals justified his means. He owed his father and brother love, but the love of glory prevailed. Gloucester also failed as a father because he couldn’t distinguish between truth and lies. His own flesh and blood tricked him.
The only character who succeeded in her role as a daughter is Cordelia. She paid the price with her life. That seems unfair, but in this Shakespeare’s tragedy it is the only possible outcome. The good characters die as well as the bad ones, but the truth about their real personalities is revealed to everybody in the end and all of them have the time go say good bye to each other and to set things straight. Some villains repent, the others don’t. Edmund seems to feel relieved after the truth has been revealed and he is doesn’t feel bad about it. He seems to take well the fact that his planned didn’t work out. That is because he is not a completely bad person in spite of everything. On the other hand, Goneril and Regan die without achieving their goals. Both of them are evil because they don’t only turn against their father, but against each other as well.
In the beginning it seemed as if Goneril and Regan had right to be suspicious of their father’s common sense because Cordelia was his favorite child and he gave up on her so easily. It seems to have triggered their true nature. Both of them began to behave like predators fighting over some significant prey. In this case, it was prestige.
Upon realizing the real nature of his daughters, King Lear says: “If it be you that stir these daughters’ hearts against their father, fool me not so much to bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger, and let not women’s weapons, water-drops, stain my man’s cheeks! No, you unnatural hags” (2.4.259–281).
King Lear is banished from his daughters‘ castles and he begins to go mad as he realizes what a horrible mistake he had made and that he wasn’t fair towards his children. He owed all of them equal treatment, but he failed to do so. He did Cordelia wrong and it turned out that there was no way to make right. Severe actions cause severe consequences. Cordelia even died in order to save her father from embarrassment.
Goneril and Regan owed to their father respect which meant that they should have left him with his servants and knights. They wanted to deprive him of them and it was disrespectful. They became the total opposite of what they pretended to be. That is common among manipulators. Plotting, talking behind someone’s back and treachery is what defines such people. These two daughters failed in their roles and they paid for it with their lives. Cordelia also paid with her life, but it was collateral damage. She was simply a tragic character. The way all of them behave proves that there is the survival of the strongest in the world of humans as well as in the animal world.
There are similarities between Edgar and Cordelia, the most important being their love for their fathers. They never even expected how much evil were their siblings capable of doing and that left them unprepared. They succeeded in their roles of children.
Nobody in this play seems to be the master of their own fate. Their lives resemble the lives of people involved in accidents. It is logical since the villains want to have all the glory and they don’t care whether their close ones live or die. The victims in this play are the characters who were too proud and gullible. The main character, King Lear, was too vain to see what was obvious. Actions speak louder than words, and Cordelia was sensitive enough to know that.
After Cornwall and Regan blind him, Gloucester says: “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport” (4.1.37–38). This sums up the whole relationship between the parent and the children in this play. It means that it is not important what they owe each other, but what kind of people they grow up to become. Also, according to Gloucester, that is a matter of fate.
Shakespeare, William. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Chatham: Wordsworth Editions Ltd., 1998. Print.