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Untitled Essay Research Paper REEDUCATING A KING

Untitled Essay, Research Paper RE-EDUCATING A KING: KING LEAR’S SELF-AWARENESS Halfway down Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade! Methinks he seems no bigger than his head:

Untitled Essay, Research Paper

RE-EDUCATING A KING: KING LEAR’S SELF-AWARENESS

Halfway down

Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade!

Methinks he seems no bigger than his head:

The fisherman that walk along the beach

Appear like mice.Although this quote from Shakespeare’s King Lear is made by Poor Tom

to his unknowing father Gloucester about the terrain far below them, it

accurately summarizes the plight of the mad king. Lear is out of touch with

his surroundings, riding high upon the wave of power associated with the

monarchy: even those closest to him are out of reach, viewed with a distorted

lens. It is through this lens of madness that Lear views his friends and

family, and thus he is stripped of everything before he can realize the folly

of his judgment. Reduced to a simple man, Lear is forced to learn the lessons

that God’s anointed is already supposed to know. This is the purpose

of the secondary characters of King Lear; they serve to show the many complex

facets of Lear’s complex personality, as they force him to finally get

in touch with his self-conscious.For example, the Fool, oddly enough, acts as the voice of reason for the

out-of -touch King. He views events critically and thus seems to foreshadow

situations that an ignorant Lear is completely oblivious to. This is evident

in act 1, scene 1, when a prodding Fool asks the king if he knows the difference

between a bitter fool and a sweet fool. When Lear admits that he does not,

the Fool attempts to lay it all out in front of him:That lord which councelled thee

To give away thy land,

Come place him here by me;

Do thou for him stand.

The sweet and bitter fool

Will presently appear;

The one in motley here,

The other found out there.The Fool attempts to show the king the folly of his ways. He is essentially

calling Lear a bitter fool, insinuating that his foolishness will be the

cause of such bitterness. This comment is taken lightly, but only because

the Fool is a satire of the king himself, and thus is the only one allowed

to criticize him. Lear has a preconceived notion that he will be able to

give up all of his land and his throne, and yet still somehow hold on to

the power that he is so accustomed to.Alas, the king does not listen. He continues to believe he still has the

power that he has long since conceded. He does not believe that by deviding

the kingdom he has lost both his political and personal power in one fell

swoop. It is not until he is thrown out into the storm that Lear comes in

touch with reality: he realizes the poetic justice of his words “Nothing

will come of nothing”, for now he has nothing; he has systemically been stripped

of his power.GLOUCESTER: O, let me kiss that hand!

LEAR: Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.It is apparent that Lear is no longer king. He has abandoned logic, thus

he can no longer consider himself God’s anointed. He has finally given

up on his hopes for a world in which he will still be respected after giving

away his money and power; a world where everyone would continue to admire

and obey him as Gloucester does, simply due to the authority that is prevalent

in Lear himself, and not his crown.Cordelia serves as a reminder to Lear of true love. She takes the abuse of

her shallow father, who banishes her for not being able to flatter him as

her sisters do. It is quite obvious that Lear is most fond of Cordelia, yet

he seems shocked when she cannot speak as daintily as Goneril and Regan.

Had Lear been in a proper state of mind, he would have known that Cordelia

would answer as she did, yet when she cannot elevate him upon a platform

for all the others to see, he banishes her out of humiliation. Nonetheless,

she stays true to her father, not once denouncing him for his foolish actions.

Even though she is somewhat aware of her sisters’ intentions, she wishes

them well, without incident.Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides

Who covers faults at last with shame derides.

Well may you prosper.Cordelia hints at the true nature of her sisters’ motivation, especially

after her dowry is split between them, yet she does not confront them in

the presence of her father, for fear of breaking her poor father’s heart.

This is yet another example of the paternal love embedded within Cordeila’s

soul, yet the lunatic king is unable to see the truth within Cordelia’s

soul.Once Lear realizes that the love he once held for his daughters has been

debased and twisted, he is too ashamed to speak with his daughter in Dover.

Yet even after this terrible ordeal, Cordelia dismisses the king’s actions,

for she truly does love him. Finally Lear can see clearly, and even though

he has no money or power, Lear does not care; he is content to rot in a jail

cell with his daughter. Although her execution seems unnecessary, she has

devoted her life to her father, thus fulfilling her moira. It has taken the

death of his beloved daughter to make Lear realize the truth to her love,

of whom he now says “Gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman” . Ironically,

this is the quality that he reputed previously in his statement “Nothing

will come of nothing” ; Lear, who had previously viewed Cordelia’s silence

with disdain, now has learned the difference between words and deeds, and

considers it to be her greatest feature of all.This is merely a sampling of characters who represent the many facets of

Lear’s personality; it is by no means exhaustive. While Cordelia teaches

her father a kingly lesson of unconditional and paternal love, one cannot

forget his other daughters, Regan and Goneril, who teach Lear another very

lesson about greed and the hunger for power. The Fool acts as the prodding,

intuitive voice of reason, sparking the king to think critically if his own

actions; yet the lessons Gloucester gives of pride quite closely parallel

the problems Lear has. Kent also plays a vital role in educating this former

king in the disciplines of loyalty and respect, for he is the only character

to stay by Lear’s side, even if it means by death. These lessons are

not new to Lear; it is obvious that these qualities have escaped him only

after many years of rule. Nonetheless, Lear finds himself reduced to a mere

man and must now somehow get back in touch with his sanity. It is the subordinate

characters in King Lear that help Lear to break the distorted lens of madness

with which he has viewed the world, thereby re-establishing his link to God,

logic, and the throne.

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