King Lears Journey of Finding Self-Knowledge Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:26:25
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Category: Literature

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In the play, we see King Lear going through a journey of self-knowledge. The play starts with King Lear who seems to be obsessed with honour. He divides his country, giving the one who honours him the most the biggest part. But the treachery of his daughters, Goneril and Regan, and the loss of the daughter who truly loved him, Cordelia, will make him see clear again. This will make Lear see himself and the world as they truly are. First Ill show how Lear lacks self-knowledge at the start of the play. Then Ill shortly discuss what political effects the lack of self-knowledge has on the country.

Third Ill show what causes Lear to regain his self-knowledge. In the beginning of the play, Lear seems obsessed with honour. He divides his country among his daughters based on who praises him the most. Giving the one who praises, or loves as Lear calls it, him the most the will receive the largest area of land. But the strange thing is that; immediately after one daughter speaks he tells her which part of the country shell receive. So that means that Lear supposedly knew already how he wanted to divide his country, and that the whole thing is just to boost his own ego.

So when Cordelia and Kent, who truly love him, dont want to play his game of praise, he reacts real strongly and banishes them from the country. He even threatens to kill Kent: Thy Banished trunk be found in our dominions, the moment is thy death. This shows that his hunger for praise and honour make him blind for what is really happening around him. We see this again when Kent, in disguise, decides to serve the King. Kent uses Lears hunger for honour to gain employment: No, sir, but you have that in your countenance which I would fain call master. Lear: Whats that? Kent: Authority.

Lear is blinded by his hunger and doesnt even know that the person, who he banished, is standing right in front of him. We see that Lears hunger for praise and honour make, him blind for what is really happening around him. He gives away his country to his daughters who are evil minded, and the daughter who truly loves him is banished. So the country is now divided and ruled by the evil daughters, Goneril and Regan. And Lear, even after he divided his country, wants to remain powerful and keeps a hundred knights. Goneril and Regan are unhappy with the way Lear is acting so they turn against him.

This leaves the country divided and vulnerable, because Lear still owns a hundred knights. I guess that is why the French invaded, also the fact that Cordelia was banished and married France may have had something to do with it. So the decision of Lear to give Goneril and Regan his country and banish Cordelia seems to have caused a war. The great turning point for Lear is when he left Gloucesters castle and ends up in a fierce storm. Through Lears anger over his last conversation with Goneril and Regan, and the power of the storm starts the process of the change within Lear. Lear starts to see the treachery of Goneril and Regan.

Also from this moment, Lear no longer sees himself as a mighty king but as a poor, infirm weak and despised old man. All though Lear still doesnt blame himself for all this: I am a man more sinned against than sinning. After this Lear goes through another change, it seems Lear starts caring for those around him and not just of himself. He thinks about the poor and how hard their live is, he says: Poor naked wretches wheresoeer you are, that bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, how shall your houseless heads and unfed sides, your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you.

Lear then gains the self-knowledge of how he never helped the poor. When Lear meets Cordelia again his journey of finding self-knowledge comes to an end. He now sees that he punished Cordelia while it should have been her sisters. He asks Cordelia for forgiveness for what he has done. Finally, when Lear returns carrying the body of Cordelia, he once again realizes that he is no different from other people. His life ends with the great words: Pray you, undo this button.

So it seems Lear starts as a man whos blinded by the hunger for praise and honour. Because of his lack of self-knowledge he makes the wrong decisions: banishing Cordelia and giving Goneril and Regan all the power. These decisions had great influence on the country. The country was now ruled by his two daughters, who were too busy with conspiring against him. During the play Lear goes through a long process of finding his self-knowledge. In the last seconds of his life he finds himself.

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