King Lear

Lear as a Victim of Circumstance

Why, in spite of everything do we like Lear and are on his side?

Ultimately any pathos that lies with Lear is due to the fact that he, like all Shakespeare's tragic heroes, does not deserve the severity of the punishment he receives. He is, through his lack of wisdom, the victim of circumstance.

Lear's catastrophic decision to split the kingdom highlights his diplomatic stupidity and immediately shows the audience his one tragic fault; blindness. His rash banishment of Cordelia, who had previously been his favourite daughter, "our joy," "your best object" and Kent who appears to be his only 'loyal' servant suggests he is a very bad judge of character and as Regan eloquently suggests at the end of scene one Lear "hath ever but slenderly known himself". Kneeling to Regan in act II scene IV visually suggests he has a child-like mentality when he wants something and his outbursts aimed at Cordelia in act I scene II, "The barbarous Scythian", "I disclaim all my paternal care", further highlight Lear's emotional rashness of thought and lack of sagely wisdom. At the end of act I scene III Goneril says that "old fools are babes again" and she is right in...

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