In Shakespeare's play "King Lear", the main character is
King Lear who starts off as a respected and powerful king.
As the story progresses the king loses his power because of
his own stupidity and blindness. The tragedy of this play
is shown through the daughters of the king, the fool, and
finally when Lear's sanity is tested.
At the beginning of the play, King Lear is powerful and
harsh. He decides he doesn't want to be king anymore, and
so he asks his daughters, Reagan, Goneril, and Cordelia to
tell him how much they love him. He does this so he may
give them a dowry. First, Goneril begins to tell her father
how much she adores him and would never disrespect him,
this is a lie. Next, is the daughter Reagan, she does the
same as her sister and lies to the king saying that she
loves him with all of her heart. Finally, Cordelia tells
her father that she could not tell him how much she loves
him, because she has no words. The king was very upset with
Cordelia and because of his anger towards her, thinking
that she did not love him as much as her other sisters, he
divided the land in two and gave Reagan and Goneril each
half. Cordelia on the other hand received nothing as her
dowry and in turn no none would marry her except the King
Giving the land to the two daughters was the first of
Lear's mistakes, for the daughters did not love him as much
as Cordelia did, but they wished to have his riches. When
Goneril and Reagan are in power they try to make Lear
appear to be incompetent. They refer to him as "The Idle
Old Man" in front of everyone and start to make even Lear
think less of himself. Although the two sisters do this,
they also realize that Lear still holds a great deal of
power in their areas, so they decide that something must be
done about it. The "loving" daughters command Lear to
dismiss fifty of his one hundred servicemen, saying that
they will not pay for it and that it is unnecessary. Lear
then starts to worry that if Goneril isn't happy, then she
in turn will make him unhappy and he agrees to let them go.
Next, the fool is introduced. Shakespeare does this to show
the deterioration of Lear since the beginning of the play.
The Fool is his name, however, he is a wise man. He is a
tutor to Lear and tries to slow him down so that he will
not lose his mind. However, in the process the fool makes
subtle hints to Lear that he has made some bad decisions.
These hints do not help Lear, they just provoke more
thinking about what he might have done to himself by giving
away his kingdom.
After Lear leaves Goneril's castle, the former king travels
to his other daughter, Reagan's castle. When he arrives
there he discovers that Reagan and her husband have left.
Little does he know that they had found out form Goneril
that he was coming and they didn't want him to stay at
their castle. He later travels to Gloucester castle and
learns there that Reagan and Goneril are not fighting as
they led him to believe. This makes Lear very upset, and
Reagan orders him to be kicked out of the castle. Outside
of the castle there is a very bad thunder storm which makes
Lear believe that the elements have joined forces with his
daughters to try and defeat him. He begins to yell at the
storm in a fit a of anger. From this scene it is quite
apparent that Lear had nearly lost his mind.
In conclusion, the reader is shown how Lear went from being
a respected and powerful king to a regular man who seems to
have lost all of his family. The two people that he trusted
most were the same people, that in the end were the cause
of his down fall. And the people he did not trust were the
ones who truly loved him and tried to protect Lear but,
Lear would not believe that he needed protection form his
own daughters. This was not true and at the end of the play
the former king had died.
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