’s Tragic Flaws Essay, Research Paper
ANALYZING KING LEAR S TRAGIC FLAWS
King Lear is a play about a tragic hero, by the name of King Lear, whose flaws get the best of him. A tragic hero must posess three qualities. The first is they must have power, in other words, a leader. King Lear has the highest rank of any leader. He is a king. The next quality is they must have a tragic flaw, and King Lear has several of those. Finally, they must experience a downfall. Lear s realization of his mistakes is more than a downfall. It is a tragedy. Lear is a tragic hero because he has those three qualities. His flaws are his arrogance, his ignorance, and his misjudgments, each contributing to the other.
The first flaw in King Lear is his arrogance, which results in the loss of Cordelia and Kent. It is his arrogance in the first scene of the play that causes him to make bad decisions. He expects his favorite, youngest daughter to be the most worthy of his love. His pride makes him expect that Cordelia s speech to be the one filled with the most love. Unfortunately for King Lear s pride, Cordelia replies to his inquisition by saying, I love your majesty/According to my bond and nothing less (1.1.100-101). Out of pride and anger, Lear banishes Cordelia and splits the kingdom in half to the two evil sisters, Goneril and Regan. This tragic flaw prevents King Lear from seeing the truth because his arrogance overrides his judgement. Lear s arrogance also causes him to lose his most faithful servant, Kent. In addition, in the first act, Lear s arrogance causes him to refuse to listen to Kent s plea to look deeper into the true hearts of his two eldest daughters. Even after the king tells Kent to mind his own business, Kent continues to try to reason with him. Kent exclaims, See better, Lear and let me still remain/The true blank of thine eye (1.1.180-181). Kent shows his worthiness by keeping up his fight to show King Lear the truth. Soon King Lear gives up and decides to banish Kent as well. Because of his arrogance, he splits his kingdom, banishes both his daughter and faithful servant, and abdicates his throne.
King Lear s other flaw is his ignorance, which is seen through his carelessness and foolishness. King Lear is a story of the consequences caused by the foolish decisions of the main character. His other flaw, arrogance, contributes to his ignorance. He is carelessness in making decisions causes him to make ignorant choices. The king believes only what appeals to him and nothing less. When his daughter tells him how she feels, he quickly begins to make choices that are full of mistakes. Kent states,
Reserve thy state,/And in thy best consideration check/This hideous rashness. Answer my life/My judgement,/The youngest daughter does not love thee least (1.1.167-71).
His ignorance causes him to give his throne to the wrong children, eventually resulting in his downfall. Lear also ignores the fool who always attempts to show King Lear the truth. The fool implies, Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst/been wise (1.5.43-44). Despite the fool s efforts, King Lear ignores him because he refuses to take the fool seriously. In actuality, King Lear is the fool. Because of his carelessness and foolishness, he continues to contribute to his downfall.
King Lear s final flaw is his rashness of judgement, which cause him to make quick decsions that end up being mistakes. Lear s other flaws, arrogance and ignorance, also contribute to his misjudgments. His anger causes him to make rash decisions such as banishing his only two faithful servants. The king almost immediately gives his throne away when his youngest daughter, Cordelia, tells him how she truly feels toward him. In his anger, King Lear misjudges his daughter s intentions and begins his own destruction. He does the same thing to his servant Kent. Unfortunately, King Lear figures this out a little too late in the novel. In Act 5, he is anxious to redeem himself. He says, She lives. If it be so,/It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows/That ever I have felt (5.3.310-320). When he sees that she has been hanged, he realizes that he is moments too late to receive his redemption. He replies, A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!/I might have saved her I killed the slave that was a-hanging thee (5.3.320-330). The rashness of his judgement could have prevented such a tragedy.
In conclusion, King Lear s flaws contribute to one another. First, King Lear allows his arrogance to prevent him from seeing the true faces of his children. He also allows his pride to banish Cordelia and Kent while dividing his kingdom to the wrongful daughters. Secondly, King Lear s arrogance causes him to make ignorant decisions like the ones stated previously. Finally, both arrogance and ignorance pay tribute to his poor judgements. At the end of the play, King Lear stares his tragedy face to face. Soon after his startling mistakes, he dies. To sum it up, King Lear s flaws, arrogance, ignorance, and misjudgments, leads to his destruction in this Shakespearean tragedy.
Shakespeare, William. King Lear. New York: Pocket Books, 1993.