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‘Shakespeare's King Lear Shows Characters Reacting in Very Different Ways to Evil and Suffering’. Discuss.

  • Date Submitted: 03/13/2010 08:03 AM
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‘Shakespeare’s King Lear shows characters reacting in very different ways to evil and suffering’. Discuss.
In King Lear we meet several different characters who respond and react differently to evil and suffering. In King Lear, both suffering and evil is intense, violent and relentless. Many of the characters are driven beyond the limits of endurance, reflected in the imagery of the play. We meet characters who experience both evil and suffering and others like Cordelia, Edgar and Kent who although are misjudged, remain loyal. On the contrary to these, we find Goneril, Regan and Edmund who are pure evil and with excessive hunger for power.
If we take King Lear as our subject, we can see that he, as the “Idle old man”, is gullible and therefore is credulous to his two “pelican daughters’” “I love you” test. All the suffering that Lear encounters is his own fault. He misjudges his “fair” Cordelia as he didn’t really know her. His extreme rashness later on brings him directly to the evil of his daughters and the suffering that comes about. Since Goneril and Regan’s declaration of their love for their father was false, Lear soon started to encounter suffering, ending up to be banished from his own kingdom. In front of his two children Lear seems powerless as they banish him. It is ironic that from occupying a king’s place, he is now living off like a “poor” “despis’d old man”. At the beginning he rejects to believe his reality, but then when he realises of the true self of his ferocious daughters, he is sorry for the way he treated his young loved one, Cordelia. This shows that although being mad, he still has at his possession some sort of consciousness.
In parallel with Lear, we find Gloucester, who is easily deceived by his “bastard” son Edmund. Both Lear and Gloucester are subjected to evil due to their lack of knowledge regarding their offspring. They were so much into their work that they lost count of those people who actually cared for...


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