King Lear: Culprit Of His Own Demise

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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King Lear: Culprit of his own Demise In his blind egocentricity King Lear has broken the bonds of family, state and friendship. He can only blame himself for his present predicament, as he has failed to realize his most self-destructive flaw, the preference of illusion over reality, and has left himself ignorant and vulnerable to the harshness of life. As an absolute power Lear is accustomed to indulging himself, and his ego, in public flattery and indisputable authority. When he disowns Cordelia and divides his kingdom between Goneril and Regan his values are notably shallow and selfish, as he prioritizes the appearance of love over actual devotion and foolishly wishes to maintain the power and title of a king while unburdening himself of the responsibility and obligations. Rather than being grateful to those trying to protect his interests, like Kent and Cordelia, Lear allows himself to be blind to their good intentions and excludes them from his life.

Lear's superficial desire for public flattery is clearly the motive for him breaking the bond between himself and the daughter he truly loves, Cordelia. He doesn't of course realize this until he experiences the harsh reality of Goneril's true feelings towards him.

O most fault, How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show! Which, like an engine, wrenched my frame of nature From the fixed place; drew from my heart all love And added to the gall. (I, iv.) When King Lear tests his daughters as to who loves him most, he presumably already knows Cordelia does, as she is his favourite. Nevertheless Lear values Goneril's and Regan's fawning over Cordelia's sincere sense of filial duty. He disowns Cordelia for telling him the truth and goes to stay with Goneril. In this scene she blatantly undermines the little authority...

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