, Research Paper
Why do bad things happen to good people? The majority of society believes that there are no logical answers to this question. The worst can happen to the best of us, for no particular reasons. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In William Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, the main character, King Lear, who claims to be “a man more sinned against than sinning”, is responsible for his own downfall (3.2.60-61). Though a good king, Lear’s actions cause his family and kingdom to fall apart. The sins committed against King Lear are a result of his personal faults of rashness, blindness, and foolishness.
King Lear’s hot temper and hasty decisions play a significant role in his fall from grace. His old age has caused him to behave impulsively, without any consideration for the consequences of his actions. When Lear asks his devoted daughter Cordelia to express her love for him, he becomes upset with her because she cannot put her feelings into words. He does not realize that she cares deeply for him and disowns her by saying, “Here I disclaim all my paternal care, propinquity and property of blood, and as a stranger to my heart and me hold thee from this for ever (1.1.120-123).” It is only later, when Cordelia has left him, that Lear realizes he had made a wrong decision. In another fit of rage, Lear tries to attack Kent, his most loyal servant, for supporting Cordelia. Without considering Kent’s wise words, Lear draws his sword and warns Kent not to come “between the dragon and his wrath” (1.1.130). This reckless behaviour causes Lear to lose a valued and trustworthy follower. Without a doubt, Lear’s rash behaviour contributes to the suffering he endures at the hands of others.
Another folly displayed by Lear is that of blindness. He is ignorant to the true feelings and intentions of his closest family members. When Regan and Goneril shower him with false praises and declarations of their love, he egotistically believes them and bases his division of the kingdom on their deceitful words. Eventually, however, Lear’s heart is broken when their true nature is exposed. Lear repeats his mistake of blindness when he fails to realize that Regan and Goneril are plotting against him. The two sisters deviously agree to “hit together” and take full control of the kingdom (1.1.332). Had Lear “seen” better, he would have realized the true intentions of his daughters and saved himself from tremendous grief.
Above all, Lear’s foolishness is the cause of his downfall. His illogical decisions cause chaos in the kingdom. Though he means well, Lear does not think rationally when he decides to hand over his power to his daughters before he dies. Lear was too quick to step down from the throne and did not realize that a bloody power struggle would ensue. In addition to losing his title, Lear is also left without a home when he divides his kingdom. Lear greatly regrets his decision when both Goneril and Regan refuse to keep him in their homes and force him to face a terrible storm without shelter. Lear is also quite foolish when he banishes Kent for supporting Cordelia and suggesting that the king reconsider his decision to disown her. Lear later wishes that he had not driven Kent away as he realises that Kent is one of the few people that respects him. Though he had good intentions, Lear initially made foolish decisions that later caused him to suffer great pain.
King Lear’s rashness, blindness, and foolishness provoke others to commit sins against him. Were it not for these faults, his family and kingdom would have continued to thrive.