shakemenu.GIF - 5152 Bytes

King Lear
     In a writing of 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 to be married with. 
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 
had no words. The king was very upset with Cordelia and because of his 
madness towards Cordelia 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 of France. 
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 decided something must be done about it. The "loving" daughters 
command Lear to let go 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 
that has taken place 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 Gonerils 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 for 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, this 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 from his own 
daughters. This was not true and at the end of the play the former 
king had died. 

Back To the Top ] [ Back To Essay Page ]
Complete Works Cliff Notes Free Papers! Biography Shakespeare Links Shakespeare discussion