Discussion of King Lear's Evaluation of Himself Essay

Discussion of King Lear's Evaluation of Himself Essay

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Discussion of King Lear's Evaluation of Himself

" I am a man more sinned against than sinning," this is Lear's
evaluation of himself when he is at his weakest. To sin is to
contravene the rules of God, as this play is set in times before the
church played an active role in running the state the king was the
only one who could say what is wrong or right. This quotation is
derived from the storm scene in Act 3 Scene 2. Before we accept this
we must take into account his condition. His two eldest daughters who
earlier expressed a "love that makes breath poor and speech unable"
and professed to be, "an enemy to all other joys", have just rejected
him. He sees his suffering as being sinned against. Although the
statement itself reminds us of "Which of you should we say doth love
us most," we see he has improved into at least acknowledging that he
has sinned. He also is able to accept the fool's truthful but painful
remarks about how foolish he has been; we can compare this with his
earlier prejudice in act 1 scene 1 when similar statements from Kent
and Cordelia lead to their banishments.

Of Lear's character arrogance and vanity are his fatal flaws that pave
the way for his downfall from grace. Even before his opening scene we
hear the words of his subjects, "I thought the king had more affected
the Duke of Albany than Cornwall." Here they are discussing Lear's
unpredictable nature and rash fickle mind. This prepares us for the
forthcoming scene where we hear it from his own mouth deciding the
nations fate from three testimonies of his daughters loves, "Which one
of should we say doth love us most." He is trying to measure love in a

... middle of paper ...

...as he offers to take poison and,
"I'll kneel down and ask of thee forgiveness."

Sadly this moment is short-lived as Edmund orders Cordelia's execution
immediately after having killed both her sisters.

The process through the book has seen Lear go from an arrogant ruler
to a "bare, unacommadated man" and "despised old man."

Through this process Lear gains considerable self-knowledge and learns
to appreciate others. Even if we measure up the sins by and sins
committed against Lear we cannot say that, "I am a man more sinned
against than sinning," is completely true. Only when dead Cordelia is
held in Lear's arms we can be made to sympathise with Lear. Overall we
can conclude that this is a just end for Lear's abuse of power and
arrogance at the throne and deserved a compromising climax for his
traumatized life.

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