King Lear of Britain, the protagonist in Shakespeare's tragic play of the same name undergoes radical change as a man, father and king as he is forced to bear the repercussions of his actions. Lear is initially portrayed as being an egotistical ruler, relying on protestations of love from his daughters to apportion his kingdom. Lear's tragic flaw is the division of his kingdom and his inability to see the true natures of people because of his pride while his scathing anger is also shown to override his judgment. He wrongfully disowns his youngest and most truthful daughter Cordelia, preferring his elder daughters, Regan and Goneril, because of an eagerness to be flattered, and they ironically turn out to be evil. He displays inadequacies as a father through lack of knowledge concerning the true characters of all his daughters, and as King through the sudden dividing of his land. Lear loses his sanity when he cannot cope with the insensitive treatment from his two elder daughters. His madness is a learning experience, as he realizes his earlier mistakes in the play, including his mistreatment of Cordelia. When he does regain sanity, he is a much wiser and enhanced man, father and king.
Kent, one of Lear's followers, is the first person to directly tell the King that he has made mistakes concerning the partition of his sovereignty. Unlike Lear who shows blindness in judgment and lack of paternal knowledge of his daughters, Kent is able to see through the superficiality of the elder daughters' confessions of love. He believes that Cordelia is wronged when she receives nothing and is exiled, and condemns the King for his actions "When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom". Kent ...
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...gh his suffering in madness.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Bevington, David, "Introduction to King Lear." The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
Elton, William R. King Lear and the Gods. San Marino, California: The Huntington Library, 1966.
Halio, Jay. " King Lear's Blinding." Shakespeare Quarterly 67 (1999): 221-3.
Hoover, Claudette. "Women, Centaurs, and Devils in King Lear." Women's Studies 16 (1989): 349-59.
Jackson, Ken. "Review of Judy Kronenfeld, King Lear and the Naked Truth." Early Modern Literary Studies 6.2 (September, 2000): 10.1-5 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/06-2/jackrev.htm>.
Leggattt, Alexander. King Lear. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1988.
Shakespeare, William. King Lear. The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Ed. David Bevington. New York: HarperCollins, 1999
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