King Lear

Lear and Glouchester's Transformation

King Lear is one of the most tragic parables ever brought forth in literature, dealing with betrayal, familial deception, madness and violence. In presenting such tragic themes and ideas in his work Shakespeare uses a subplot to mirror the main action which therefore increases the effect of the parable's lessons. In both stories, parents are deceived and betrayed by their own children, one of the most abhorrant crimes in Shakespeare's time. It is this mistreatment by children that lead both Lear and Gloucester to madness and then death. But they are not completely innocent victims who have fallen to their children's ill intentions. Both have made critical and constant errors in judgment that caused their downfall, and they both must realize their errors before their deaths.

In the first scene in the first act, we are presented with Lear's misguided dependence on artifice and flattery that catapults the action of the play and leads to both his positive transformation and sadly, his death. Before dividing up his kingdom among his three daughters Lear asks "which of you shall we say doth love us most,/That we our largest bounty may extend" (King Lear I.i.51-52). From the beginning it is obvious that Lear...

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