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Justice in King Lear

  • Date Submitted: 03/31/2010 01:11 AM
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Vassallo Claire
English Tutorial – King Lear

At the end of King Lear the evil characters die a violent death, but so do the good ones. What does the play say about human and divine justice, or its absence?

      There are many evident themes in Shakespeare’s play, ‘King Lear’, but perhaps one of the most prevalent relates to the theme of justice. ‘King Lear’ is a brutal play, filled with human cruelty and awful disasters. The play’s progression of terrible events makes both the characters in the play, and the readers question whether or not there is justice in the play, hence in the world.

      The play raises the questions, who is responsible for what happens in the world and whether there is there any justice in the world? The characters in the play ask these questions themselves. Each of these characters gave their own interpretation to what causes downfall, and if there is any justice in the world. Kent blames the stars for one’s downfall. Lear, on the other hand, blames the Gods for the injustices in the world. In the storm scenes, Lear expects the Gods and the storm to take his side, by wiping out the entire world and destroy any possibility of future life. In this way, the storm will destroy human nature and therefore, it will destroy `ingrateful man!', hence, Lear’s daughters. Gloucester, like Lear, blames the Gods for one’s misfortunes, since men is a puppet of the Gods. Edgar, his other son, has a different idea since he believes that “the gods are just,” He believes in the rather ‘ideal’ state were the Gods reward the good and punish the evil. After his fight with Edmund, Edgar once again insists that the Gods are just and that they punish evil people like his bother for their sins.

      ‘The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
      Make instruments to plague us;’

Albany like Edgar believes that the Gods are just, and that they punish evil people like Goneril and Regan for their sins. In fact, he says that Goneril and Regan’s...

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