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Comparing Henry IV and King Lear

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Comparing Henry IV and King Lear

Shakespeare's play, King Lear details the tragic consequences of the decisions of the fictitious character Lear, King of England. King Lear is a man of great power but he surrenders all of this power to his daughters as a reward for their demonstration of love towards him. Lear’s rash decision results in a chain reaction of events that send him through a journey of hell. King Lear is a metaphorical description of one man's journey through hell in order to expiate his sin.

As the play opens one can almost immediately see that Lear begins to make mistakes that will eventually result in his downfall. (Neher) This is the first and most significant of the many sins that he makes in this play. By abdicating his throne to fuel his ego he is disrupts the great chain of being which states that the King must not challenge the position that God has given him. This undermining of God's authority results in chaos that tears apart Lear's world. (Williams) Leaving him, in the end, with nothing. Following this Lear begins to banish those around him that genuinely care for him as at this stage he cannot see beyond the mask that the evil wear. He banishes Kent, a loyal servant to Lear, and his youngest and previously most loved daughter Cordelia. (Nixon) This results in Lear surrounding himself with people who only wish to use him which leaves him very vulnerable attack. This is precisely what happens and it is through this that he discovers his wrongs and amends them.

Following the committing of his sins, Lear becomes abandoned and estranged from his kingdom which causes him to loose sanity. While lost in his grief and self-pity the fool is introduced to guide Lear back to the sane world and to help find the lear that was ounce lost behind a hundred Knights but now is out in the open and scared like a little child. (Bradley) The fact that Lear has now been pushed out from behind his Knights is dramatically represented by him actually being out on the lawns of his castle. The terrified little child that is now unsheltered is dramatically portrayed by Lear's sudden insanity and his rage and anger is seen through the thunderous weather that is being experienced. All of this contributes to the suffering of Lear due to the gross sins that he has committed.
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