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Essay/Term paper: King lear: sequences which display the varying perceptions of different characters

Essay, term paper, research paper:  King Lear

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King Lear: Sequences Which Display The Varying Perceptions of Different

In Shakespeare's King Lear, there are several sequences which display
the varying perceptions of different characters. The perceptions of the
characters often differs because of what they are able to see and also in their
nature. Such factors obstruct their vision, not allowing them to see clearly.
One sequence which may illustrate this is the banishing of Cordelia after she
refuses Lear's test of love. Another sequence is the gouging of Gloucester's
eyes by Cornwall. A third sequence which shows the indifference of opinion
within the characters is Lear's death at the end of the play.
As the play opens up, Gloucester and Kent are speaking of Lear's
intention to divide his kingdom according to a test of love. It is this test of
love which causes Lear to banish his most beloved daughter Cordelia. When asked
how much she loves her father, Cordelia replies that she loves him according to
her bond, no more nor less . This response angers Lear and causes him to ban
her for her refusal to comply. Lear is held to the belief that she does not
love him. He believes that the daughter which had loved him the most (and who
he loved the most) has broken his heart. He is suspicious and bans her because
he thinks that she is the only daughter who doesn't love him. It is Lear's
rashness which prevents him from seeing that she is speaking the truth. It is
the same rashness which leads him to believe that Goneril and Regan are being
truthful. Kent believes that Lear is wrong and openly tells him so. He says in
a straightforward manner that he is both mad and an old man . Kent believes
that Lear's decision was a "hideous rashness." He continues to speak, even as
Lear asks him to stop. He tells Lear to see better as he is banned. It is in
Kent's nature to speak what he feels, without hiding things. He did not
understand Lear's condition and his rashness. Regan thought that because of the
banishing of both Cordelia and Kent, now Lear will have abrupt fits . She
thinks that her and Goneril are the next victims of Lear and must be careful.
Goneril sees the banishing as poor judgment on Lear's part . She says that it
has always been in his nature to be rash . She is not surprised by his actions.
She, as Regan does, believes that they must be careful in their actions or they
might be affected by him too . Goneril decides that it would be a smart move to
do something soon , before Lear can act against them or perhaps discover their
true nature. Both Goneril and Regan know that they had to lie in order to
receive a share of the kingdom. They decided to take initiative before they
could be affected. Both of them act out of greed in more power. If Lear bans
Cordelia, then it is simply a larger inheritance for both of them. The two
daughters do not find a problem in that. Albany does not understand what Lear's
reasoning is . He remains puzzled over why Lear would do such a thing and asks
the Gods for assistance . As Burgundy learns of Lear's actions, he restates his
interest in only what Lear had offered him . He still expects to receive
Cordelia along with her dowry, but drops the idea of taking her as his bride as
soon as Lear tells him that she no longer carries a dowry. France rescues
Cordelia from her misery after Burgundy refuses to marry her, but only after
speaking to Lear. When he first hears of Cordelia's banishing, he thinks that
it is strange that the one who he loved the most would do something so monstrous
as to strip his benevolence . After speaking to Cordelia and listening to what
she has to say, he realizes that she had spoken the truth and still loves Lear
the most. In his noble sense, he sees Lear's decision as rash (but does not say
anything) and takes Cordelia in. This characterizes France as one who can see
through Lear's rashness and understand the condition of both Cordelia and her
father. The Fool, like Kent, tells Lear in a very straightforward manner that
he is wrong. He at often times insults Lear, calling him a fool . Upon hearing
of Cordelia's banishing, he had much pined away, showing both his emotion
towards Cordelia and how he thinks that the King was wrong in his decision.
Shows that the Fool is very often the one who speaks truthfully and
intelligently, but is never taken seriously enough to be given any credit. He
does not tell Lear that he should take back Cordelia or even rethink it, rather
he boasts to the King of his foolishness. This shows both how the Fool knows
his limits very well and how he cares very much not to further anger Lear.
In Scene seven of Act three, Cornwall hastily plucks out the eyes of
Gloucester as his servants and Regan watch. Cornwall was operating under the
false impressions of Edmund. His only fault was in following orders. He did
not make any false decisions by himself, it was Edmund who hindered his vision.
Edmund had been planning the downfall of his father and is only interested in
his personal gain, at any cost. Edmund is immersed in his greed for others'
possessions, he will step on whomever he needs to in order to reach his goal.
This is what hinders his vision. Lear does not notice Gloucester's blinding
when he first stumbles upon him, showing Lear's own blindness in seeing others.
Lear tells Gloucester that he can see with his ears , then praises him because
he has no eyes and no money in his purse, yet still sees the world , more than
Lear had done with his set of eyes and his entire Kingdom. Lear is still in a
state of rashness and partial blindness. Lear's daughter Regan detests
Gloucester because he was against Edmund, the man whom she was trying to pursue.
Following the plucking of one of his eyes, she insists that the other should be
removed as well . After his blinding, she reveals to him that it was Edmund who
was truly behind the gruesome deed then orders some servants to throw him out
and "smell his way to Dover" . Goneril, upon hearing of the deeds acted on
Gloucester, does not remark immediately. Her first remark is of Cornwall's
death . She does not even recognize Gloucester, she instead names Edmund as her
own Gloucester . It is not until later in act five that she reveals that she
believes he should've been killed. Both of the daughters do not care much for
the well being of Gloucester and for the most part are against him since he is
in front of Edmund, holding power above him. They both are after Edmund and
will stop at nothing for get him. This shows that it is their greed which makes
see things in such an inhumane manner. As Albany hears of the incident
involving Gloucester's eyes, he feels sympathy for him. He wants to avenge the
evil and fight back for Gloucester . He then declares that this incident proves
that there are powers above them which are concerned with events such as this
that are quick in punishing transgressors . This marks the beginning of
Albany's character becoming a hero of the play. Edgar, Gloucester's son, whom
he could not recognize because of his supposedly formidable disguise, was
devastated upon seeing his father's condition. After seeing him, he develops a
theory that things could only get better if they are all at their worst . Edgar
sees things going in a topsy-turvy manner because of his own personal encounters.
It is in the faults of others' upon him which makes him believe that things are
so bad.
As the play reached its dramatic end, Lear dies in the arms of his
beloved daughter whom he had wronged in Act one. The only ones who were alive
to comment in this bloody play were Albany, Kent and Edgar, three truly virtuous
men. Albany, after attempting to correct the mishaps of previous acts, now
tells the Edgar and Kent that right now everyone is full of sorrow and it is up
to the two of them to restore order and rule . He does not include himself,
showing his unselfishness. This shows Albany as the prudent one who must lead
others. His reaction to Lear's death was calm and quite patient, not a merciful
cry of anguish. Lear's faithful servant Kent remains by his side till the end
of the play, showing his unflinching loyalty. He says that it was a wonder that
he survived all that he endured yet usurped his own life , showing a sense of
irony in Lear's death. The death does not stop Kent's loyalty though. He
declares that he must join his master because he calls on him , speaking of his
loyalty as a journey. Kent makes it known that he will find his way to death in
order to join his master. This statement reflects Kent's nature in speaking out
in a hasty manner. He does not state that it his own intention to join Lear in
death, he instead says that he does not have a choice. This shows Kent's life-
long commitment to serve Lear as faithfully as he can. Edgar ends the play with
a set of lines which stress the suffering which has taken place throughout the
play. Edgar is a fit character to end the play with because he has withstood so
many grievous occurrences. He is a model character in that he alone illustrates
a number of types of suffering. He has suffered in both a physical and mental
sense. He is able to speak of the suffering of the play because he has played
such a big part in resolving and overcoming them. His rise to royalty in the
play shows how the plot and sub-plot have converged. His personal suffering
allow him to make an unbiased and calm statement after the death of Lear. He
has endured so much and can speak from his own experience.
Several events in King Lear are seen differently by various characters.
Their own intentions and beliefs cause them to make decisions which, if wrong,
are corrected through the play's progression. The nature of the characters
along with their personal desire cause them to be biased and sometimes
predictable in their actions. Often times, it is the obstruction created by
other characters which prevents them from seeing clearly. Eventually, in the
climactic play's end, all wrong is corrected, unfortunately at the cost of
several lives of many innocent people, making King Lear a true tragedy.


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