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The Nature of Loyalty

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 12:23 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 69.4 
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In the play King Lear, Shakespeare presents the reader with many negative views of society, and of human nature.   One of the few bright spots in the play is Kent, a very loyal and honest man.   Through Kent and his actions, Shakespeare shows the reader the nature of true loyalty.  


Kent's nature is evident from the very first time he talks to Lear.   Lear has begun to detail his disappointment in Cordelia, and announce that he will not be providing her with a dowry.   Kent interrupts Lear's speech with a cry of "Good my liege"   (Shakespeare 17).   This is a very risky move on the part of Kent, as he knows that Lear may not be in a rational state of   mind, and may take any disagreeing with him as a challenge.   Through this, Shakespeare shows the reader that a truly loyal character will not fear the consequences his actions.   Shakespeare reinforces this point later on in the play when Kent disguises himself to aid Lear, even though he is aware that if he is found the penalty is to be death.


Kent expresses the extent of his loyalty when he conveys the thought "Royal Lear, Whom I have ever honoured as my king, Loved as my father, as my master followed, As my great patron thought on in my prayers"(Shakespeare 17).   With this statement we see the type of dedication that is required to someone for true loyalty.   Kent is loyal to Lear not only as a king, but as a father and a master.   Kent is quite willing to acknowledge that he is less than Lear.   Through this speech the reader is shown the amount of respect and love that Kent has for Lear.   These qualities are shown in even greater detail later on, when Kent must look after the delusional Lear, a quite unpleasant experience.


Kent is also quick to point out that Lear may be making his decision to banish Cordelia due to madness, and not reason.   He is brutally honest when he says "Be Kent unmannerly When Lear is mad.   What wouldst thou do, old man?   Thinkest thou that duty...

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