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Redemption in King Lear

  • Date Submitted: 08/03/2010 07:38 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 59.7 
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King Lear’s Redemption

    William Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of King Lear” is a different kind of tragedy than Macbeth or Hamlet or any of the typical Shakespearian tragedies.   While ordinarily, Shakespeare writes on a sort of binary- his tragedies are all sad and everyone ends up dying, and his comedies are lighter, this takes a sort of different route.   While the story is doubtless tragic, by the end, instead of being entirely depressing, King Lear experiences revelation and therefore, redemption.
    Although the story itself is mostly tragic, the fact that Lear has this revelation and becomes a better person makes the story altogether more uplifting.   It is his change of values which lead him to becoming a better human being, and for the purposes of the play, a better father to the one daughter who was actually loyal to him, Cordelia.
    At the beginning of the play, King Lear was an extremely selfish character, only concerned with himself.   He requests at the beginning of the play that his daughters tell him which of them loves him the most.   This is a ridiculous question for a father to ask.   If my father asked my siblings and me that question I would not only find it odd but also offensive.   Cordelia gives him the honest answer, although not the answer he was looking for, and he banishes her.   Why a father would ask this of his daughters is beyond me, and it was not as if Cordelia said she did not love him, only that she loves him “according to her bond” (6, 95), the way a daughter should love her father.   The fact that he was not content with this answer just shows how selfish he is at the beginning of the play.
    After he banishes his one loyal daughter, who is loved by all of the “good” characters in the play and realizes how evil his other two daughters are, Lear makes a descent into madness.   Only when Lear is completely out of his right mind does he realize the errors of his previous ways, and although he has lost his mind, he stands to gain...

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