The Foolishness of Ignoring Advice

The Foolishness of Ignoring Advice

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The Foolishness of Ignoring Advice
In Disney’s the little Mermaid, King Triton gives fatherly advice to Ariel. He tells Ariel that she should love whomever she wants to, even if it is a human. .Ariel responds positively to her father, and happily takes his advice. In doing so, Ariel proves she has the intelligence and wisdom to accept her father’s guidance. In Disney’s the lion king, Zazu warns Simba not to play in the Elephant graveyard. Simba ignores this advice however, and plays there anyways. In the end, he falls down a rather large hill and gets hurt. If Simba had chosen to accept the advice, he would not have hurt himself or have disappointed Zazu. Both characters are given advice, but it is their own choice whether they choose to accept or ignore the guidance. Like these instances in classic Disney movies, many characters in King Lear are also given advice that they may choose to embrace or ignore. Throughout William Shakespeare’s play, it is shown that it takes a truly wise person to give advice. As well, those that are foolish choose not to accept the advice. In the end, the foolish will suffer from their ignorance. Throughout the play King Lear, this is shown repeatedly as the characters struggle to gain power and show their loyalty. Evidently, choosing to ignore the advice of others leads to suffering.
To begin, the wise offer crucial advice to those in need. Firstly, advice is used to warn friends. In the beginning of the play, Kent warns King Lear of the consequences of his actions when he cautions Lear to “Reserve thy state/ And in thy best consideration check / This hideous Rashness” (I.i.151-153). Kent feels that Lear is being much to rash in his decision to banish Cordelia. He believes it is a terrible decision, and he is worried about the implications of such a hasty conclusion. Kent is full of insight and perception, and uses his wisdom to help his good friend, Lear when he is in need. Additionally, the wise use advice to warn their masters. For example, the servant in Act III stands up to Regan during her vicious eye gouging, and strongly advises her to stop her monstrous actions. The servant is appalled by Regan’s actions and tells her that although he has served her since childhood, he has never done better service “than now to bid [her] hold” (III.

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vii.76). Even though the servant is being rebellious by standing up to his master, he is wise enough to realize that the advice he has could be crucial for Regan’s future. It is a very bold move for the servant to step up and offer his advice without being asked. Finally, the wise give advice to strongly discourage their family from making decisions that could negatively influence their future. When Gloucester receives the letter from Cordelia that explains of her plan to help Lear, Gloucester shares the letter with Edmund. Gloucester knows that getting caught with a letter supporting Lear at such a time of political unrest could be very dangerous. When he shows Edmund, Gloucester strongly encourages him not to tell anyone, and that it would be in his best interest to keep the information a secret. Gloucester is wise enough to offer advice and guidance to his son when it is of utter importance. Clearly, the wise offer advice to those in need. Just like in The Little Mermaid, King Triton gives advice exactly like Lear, The Servant and Gloucester. Even though the advice is offered, many characters struggle to accept it.
When advice is offered, characters can respond by graciously accepting or thoughtlessly declining. The latter option is shown many times throughout King Lear when the characters foolishly ignore the advice of others. Lear blatantly ignores Kent’s advice when he states “Kent, on thy life, no more” (I.i. 56)! Lear’s response is hasty and it is evident that he has taken no time to consider his options. Lear then continues his spew of insults, and Cordelia is immediately banished. Lear shows his ignorance and stupidity by intentionally ignoring the advice of his wise friend. In the end, his suffering will be severe, and will mimic that of Simba in the Lion King. As well, the foolish become upset when someone that is inferior to him or her offers advice. They may feel threatened or targeted by advice, so in response they lash out uncontrollably. When the servant advises Regan to stop gouging Gloucester’s eyes, Regan responds with “How now, you dog” (III.vii.76)? She questions her servant’s authority in the situation by calling him a dog, but soon after Cornwall steps in and the conflict becomes violent. Cornwall fights the servant in a sword fight, and in the end, he comes out victorious. The servant was only trying to help his master, but ultimately his wisdom to help others resulted in his personal demise. Regan chose not only to ignore the advice, but also to lash out, and use her husband as ammunition to strike back. Lastly, the ignorant choose not to accept advice from family, and instead deceive the wise. When Gloucester strongly encourages Edmund to keep the letter a secret, Edmund goes along with the plan, and pretends that he will do as Gloucester advises. In reality though, Edmund ignores the advice and deceives his father. He takes the letter to Cornwall and as a reward for betraying his father; Edmund receives the title of Earl of Gloucester. Edmund and Cornwall then plot to take away Gloucester’s power, and punish him for being a traitor. Gloucester is very wise, and uses his wisdom to offer advice to his son, yet Edmund is foolish and chooses not to accept the advice. In conclusion, even though wise people offer advice, it is only the foolish that choose not to accept it. By being foolish, the characters will continue on their paths of destruction. This is demonstrated when people blatantly ignore the advice, they lash out and become angry and when they betray those that are wise.
Consequently, the foolish people that choose not to accept advice suffer terribly in the end. In fact, choosing to ignore advice from friends causes them to lose those that they love. Even after her banishment, King Lear and Cordelia are finally able to make amends. It is a long struggle of support as Lear and Cordelia try to work together while in different countries. Lear finally apologizes to Cordelia, and their love for each other is renewed. Immediately after their acceptance for each other however, Cordelia dies and Lear is left alone with his grief and pain. Lear suffers by losing his only loving daughter simply because he is too foolish to accept advice from Kent in the beginning of the play. Furthermore, characters suffer horrific deaths from ignoring wise advice from their inferiors. Regan is warned that she is being carried away in her quest for power; however, she becomes outraged and does not even consider the warning. As a result, Regan upsets many people, and is even partially responsible for her husband’s death. Her sister, Goneril become jealous that Regan and she fancy the same man. To deal with this problem, Goneril poisons Regan, and Regan experiences a most painful death. If Regan had just stopped to listen to her servant’s advice, this whole situation could have been resolved. Regan’s foolishness overshadows her commonsense and consequently she suffers terribly. Lastly, by ignoring advice from family, characters die alone with no family or friends. Edmund betrays his father, and in doing so, Gloucester is blinded by Regan. When Gloucester can no longer physically see, he is finally able to realize how his own son has deceived him. Edmund is also on a quest for power and is willing to sacrifice almost everything to be ruler of the country. He has no woman to love him or father to support him. His own brother even turns on him, and at long last, Edmund is killed by Edgar. His death is lonely, and he has no family that loves him. Edmund’s suffering is directly related to the betrayal of his father and could have been prevented had he just chosen to accept the wise words of Gloucester. Clearly, the suffering that the characters endure is because of their foolishness in ignoring the advice that their servants, friends and family offer. To live a prosperous life, one must be wise enough to accept help from others.
Evidently, accepting advice from others is always for the better. When advice is offered from the wise and foolish people choose to ignore it, they eventually suffer. Throughout William Shakespeare’s play King Lear, Lear, Regan, and Edmund suffer from their foolishness. Having the wisdom to accept advice however, leads to a prosperous life filled with love. Like in many other classic Disney movies, the characters must be weary of people that are there to offer legitimate advice verses those that offer advice for personal gain.


Shakespeare, William. King Lear. Harcourt Canada:Toronto.
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