King Lear

Recognizing Humanity In William Shakespeare's King Lear

William Shakespeare's tragedy, King Lear, is not merely a story of the ill effects of aging, but an illustration of a man plagued by pride and arrogance. Initially, Lear deems himself a man worthy of worship by his family and friends, an ill for which he suffers profoundly. 'The world remains what it was, a merciless, heart-breaking world. Lear is broken by it, but he has learned...' (Stein 69). Through his experiences, Lear gradually realizes that his pride has caused him to lose touch with his humanity, which he regains when he is humbled.

Lear abuses his authority when he plays favorites with his daughters. He is infuriated upon hearing that his youngest daughter, Cordelia has nothing to say while her sisters present an eloquent testimony of their love, only it is that much more insincere. He says "Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again" (I.i. 90). He is arrogant in assuming that he can control the feelings of his children and lacks the humility to accept that his daughter may not feel so strongly about him. Lear's arrogance prevents him from seeing that Cordeila's plainness of speech indicated that she loved, but not for gain. Similarly, he is unable to detect the insincerity of the crafty...

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