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King Lear Essay

In: Shakespeare free essays

King Lear Essay

Nobody in the entire universe is prefect and never executes any mistakes because sometimes, our wit is lacking to make a wise decision for us. This statement proves that, in this world nothing is more dangerous than our stupidity to judge someone without obtain a deep understanding of the person's intention or before reveal their true heart. As the consequences from the mistaken decision, it maybe makes us become 'blind' thus cannot see the truth that already in front of us. For instance, in King Lear, Shakespeare uses this topic to develop a theme based on the misjudgment for his tragic play, in which cause a big problem to happen then, as the quote meaning “All the power of his wits have given way to his impatience” (Shakespeare 3.6:4-5). To make this play more complicated, Shakespeare uses a technique in which two subplots come together and at last, the two subplots meet each other. Therefore, two characters who are Lear and Gloucester are parallel to each other, as the effect from the two subplots. In King Lear by William Shakespeare, we can see the relationship between Lear and Gloucester that allow us to make comparison based on their role in the play. Similarly, based on Lear and Gloucester reaction to their suffer because of their own blindness to see the truth and in contrast, they are different in some way when they find out the truth.

Lear, in this play, is a tragic hero who made a poor decision when he decides to give all of his lands includes of his power to his evil daughters, Regan and Goneril who actually are incognito and lie about their love towards his father. He also banishes Cordelia from his life because of his misjudgment, “And as a stranger to my heart and me”. (Shakespeare 1. 1: 114) As an important person and has a high status, Lear thinks that all his decisions are right and he does not want to change his decision to disown Cordelia, “Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.” (Shakespeare 1.1:244), without takes any advices from other people as Kent, his loyal servant, to him considerable. His blindness cannot identifies which one is the right or the wrong, that led to his downfall after this. He evaluates his daughters' love towards him based on their verbal confesses, not the physically and spiritual love treatment. “How, how, Cordelia! Mend your speech a little, Lest you may mar your fortunes.” (Shakespeare 1.1:93-94) He misjudges when Cordelia says her love as, “Nothing, my lord.” (Shakespeare 1.1:86) Lear also put his trust on the wrong person as he thinks that Regan and Goneril can take care of him and his lands well, without any arguing or problem in future. However, as Shakespeare's nature is to make his play has a tragic ending. Lear has to bear all the mistakes that he had done “I am a man more sinned against than sinning.” (Shakespeare 3.2:59). His 'disguise' daughters treat him horrible, make him mentally and spiritually abuse, “My wits begin to turn.” (Shakespeare 3.2:67)

Similar with Lear, Gloucester also is an important person for the country administration as he is an assistant to the King and character in this play. We can notice the parallelism of his life with Lear's life, as he stated, “Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile, that it doth hate what gets it.” (Shakespeare 3.4: 146-147) He also made a poor decision when he wants to fight Edgar, as he misjudges his legitimate son, “My son Edgar! Had he a hand to write this? a heart and brain to breed it in?” (Shakespeare 1.2:57-58) think he is an evil son after read a mock conspiracy letter written by Edmund, who pretend the letter is from Edgar. He does not realizes who is the traitor actually, because Edmund already made a plan, “And my invention thrive, Edmund the base shall top th'legitimate-:” (Shakespeare 1.2:20-21), in order to make Edgar looks evil in front of their father. Gloucester, same again with Lear also put his trust on the wrong person, after he decides to give over his properties and the lands to Edmund, “May have due note of him; and of my land, Loyal and natural boy,” (Shakespeare 2.1:82-83) who he believes a good and pure illegitimate son, covered by a disguises. This shows that Gloucester also misjudges the good one because of the bad plan from the evil one, same as Lear when he does not believe to Edgar because of the letter from Edmund. Besides that, he also trusts Edmund when he reveals about the secret letter from France to him, “I have received a letter this night; 'tis dangerous to be spoken; I have locked the letter in my closet.” (Shakespeare 3.3: 10-11)  In same aspect, Gloucester blindness also cannot identify the truth, “I have no way, and therefore want no eyes; I stumbled when I saw.” (Shakespeare 4.1:18-19) He thinks that Edgar really means to impose him, as in the letter stated that Edgar wants to kill him. At last, Gloucester also suffers when Cornwall is pulling out his eyes, as he thinks he is a traitor. Regan also tortures him by plucking his beards violently.

Although we say that Gloucester is a duplication of Lear character in the different plot, they also have the differences. Lear, after he knows that his daughters against him, “That will with two pernicious daughters join your high -engendered battles 'gainst a head so old and white as this.” (Shakespeare 3.2:22-24), thinks that he is going to be mad because he could not accept the facts. Differently with Gloucester who can stay calm, as he could make the wise decision after got a letter from Cordelia, that tell France will invade England in order to help Lear. Another difference is Lear knows who is against him earlier than Gloucester finds out who is the traitor in his plot. Before Gloucester knows the truth about Edmund, Lear find out about the Regan and Goneril evilness as earlier as in Act 2, when his daughters did not accept him at their house, gives a lot of excuses to make sure his father cannot interfere with their matters, as Goneril says:

Pray you, let us hit

together: if our father carry authority with such

disposition as he bears, this last surrender of his will

but offend us (Shakespeare 1.1:302-305)

Unfortunately, Gloucester just finds out about the evilness of Edmund before he loses he eyes, when Regan reveals the secret that Edmund is the one who tell them about the letter, and has become a traitor to him, “… it was he that made the overture of thy treasons to us, who is too good to pity thee.” (Shakespeare 3.7: 86-87).  In contrast, Lear on the other hands realizes about his mistakes as the first times he feels sorry and pity to the unsheltered people, like Edgar in disguises as a beggar faster than Gloucester can realizes about his own mistake to Edgar. Then, in Act 4, he already realizes his mistakes to Cordelia, as he states, “Have, as I do remember, done me wrong: You have some cause, they have not.” (Shakespeare 4.7:73-74) After Gloucester knows the truth about Edmund, he quickly realizes that he is wrong to Edgar, “O my follies! Then Edgar was abused. Kind Gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!” (Shakespeare 3.7: 89-90) At this point, he already knows that he make a wrong decision that will make him suffer. We can differentiate them further based on the level of suffers that they have to bear. Lear, for me suffers more than Gloucester in mentally, but Gloucester more suffer based on the physically abuse. As the play keeps progress, we can see that Lear become crazier and one example is the mock trial, as he describes his daughters as the animals, “Now, you she foxes!” (Shakespeare 3.6: 23) reflected his furious to them.

Shakespeare uses a good medium to show the consequences from the misjudgment. Although we consider the things just a small things but it can make our life suffers forever. In the play, Shakespeare using the parallel plot to make the story line become more interesting, and using Lear and Gloucester a medium to show how badness are the misjudgment and how it can affect our life. Therefore, we can identify the similarities and the differences between Lear and Gloucester although Shakespeare makes the two characters are parallel to each other. They are same in sense the misjudgment and different in sense the times when they knows about the truth who hidden behind their own blindness. In King Lear by William Shakespeare, we can see the relationship between Lear and Gloucester that allow us to make comparison based on their role in the play.