As the play opens up, Gloucester and Kent are speaking of Lear’sintention to divide his kingdom according to a test of love. It is this test oflove which causes Lear to banish his most beloved daughter Cordelia. When askedhow much she loves her father, Cordelia replies that she loves him according toher bond, no more nor less . This response angers Lear and causes him to banher for her refusal to comply.
Lear is held to the belief that she does notlove him. He believes that the daughter which had loved him the most (and whohe loved the most) has broken his heart. He is suspicious and bans her becausehe thinks that she is the only daughter who doesn’t love him. It is Lear’srashness which prevents him from seeing that she is speaking the truth. It isthe same rashness which leads him to believe that Goneril and Regan are beingtruthful.
Kent believes that Lear is wrong and openly tells him so. He says ina straightforward manner that he is both mad and an old man . Kent believesthat Lear’s decision was a “hideous rashness. “He continues to speak, even asLear asks him to stop. He tells Lear to see better as he is banned.
It is inKent’s nature to speak what he feels, without hiding things. He did notunderstand Lear’s condition and his rashness. Regan thought that because of thebanishing of both Cordelia and Kent, now Lear will have abrupt fits . Shethinks 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 ithas 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 theymight be affected by him too . Goneril decides that it would be a smart move todo something soon , before Lear can act against them or perhaps discover theirtrue nature. Both Goneril and Regan know that they had to lie in order toreceive a share of the kingdom. They decided to take initiative before theycould be affected. Both of them act out of greed in more power.
If Lear bansCordelia, then it is simply a larger inheritance for both of them. The twodaughters do not find a problem in that. Albany does not understand what Lear’sreasoning is . He remains puzzled over why Lear would do such a thing and asksthe Gods for assistance .
As Burgundy learns of Lear’s actions, he restates hisinterest in only what Lear had offered him . He still expects to receiveCordelia along with her dowry, but drops the idea of taking her as his bride assoon as Lear tells him that she no longer carries a dowry. France rescuesCordelia from her misery after Burgundy refuses to marry her, but only afterspeaking to Lear. When he first hears of Cordelia’s banishing, he thinks thatit is strange that the one who he loved the most would do something so monstrousas to strip his benevolence .
After speaking to Cordelia and listening to whatshe has to say, he realizes that she had spoken the truth and still loves Learthe most. In his noble sense, he sees Lear’s decision as rash (but does not sayanything) and takes Cordelia in. This characterizes France as one who can seethrough Lear’s rashness and understand the condition of both Cordelia and herfather. The Fool, like Kent, tells Lear in a very straightforward manner thathe is wrong. He at often times insults Lear, calling him a fool .
Upon hearingof Cordelia’s banishing, he had much pined away, showing both his emotiontowards 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 andintelligently, but is never taken seriously enough to be given any credit. Hedoes not tell Lear that he should take back Cordelia or even rethink it, ratherhe boasts to the King of his foolishness. This shows both how the Fool knowshis 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 ofGloucester as his servants and Regan watch. Cornwall was operating under thefalse impressions of Edmund. His only fault was in following orders. He didnot 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 inhis 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 blindingwhen 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 becausehe has no eyes and no money in his purse, yet still sees the world , more thanLear had done with his set of eyes and his entire Kingdom.
Lear is still in astate of rashness and partial blindness. Lear’s daughter Regan detestsGloucester 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 beremoved as well . After his blinding, she reveals to him that it was Edmund whowas truly behind the gruesome deed then orders some servants to throw him outand “smell his way to Dover” .
Goneril, upon hearing of the deeds acted onGloucester, does not remark immediately. Her first remark is of Cornwall’sdeath . She does not even recognize Gloucester, she instead names Edmund as herown Gloucester . It is not until later in act five that she reveals that shebelieves he should’ve been killed.
Both of the daughters do not care much forthe well being of Gloucester and for the most part are against him since he isin front of Edmund, holding power above him. They both are after Edmund andwill stop at nothing for get him. This shows that it is their greed which makessee things in such an inhumane manner. As Albany hears of the incidentinvolving Gloucester’s eyes, he feels sympathy for him.
He wants to avenge theevil and fight back for Gloucester . He then declares that this incident provesthat there are powers above them which are concerned with events such as thisthat are quick in punishing transgressors . This marks the beginning ofAlbany’s character becoming a hero of the play. Edgar, Gloucester’s son, whomhe could not recognize because of his supposedly formidable disguise, wasdevastated upon seeing his father’s condition. After seeing him, he develops atheory that things could only get better if they are all at their worst .
Edgarsees 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 areso bad. As the play reached its dramatic end, Lear dies in the arms of hisbeloved daughter whom he had wronged in Act one. The only ones who were aliveto comment in this bloody play were Albany, Kent and Edgar, three truly virtuousmen.
Albany, after attempting to correct the mishaps of previous acts, nowtells the Edgar and Kent that right now everyone is full of sorrow and it is upto 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 leadothers. His reaction to Lear’s death was calm and quite patient, not a mercifulcry of anguish. Lear’s faithful servant Kent remains by his side till the endof the play, showing his unflinching loyalty.
He says that it was a wonder thathe survived all that he endured yet usurped his own life , showing a sense ofirony in Lear’s death. The death does not stop Kent’s loyalty though. Hedeclares that he must join his master because he calls on him , speaking of hisloyalty as a journey. Kent makes it known that he will find his way to death inorder to join his master.
This statement reflects Kent’s nature in speaking outin a hasty manner. He does not state that it his own intention to join Lear indeath, 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 witha set of lines which stress the suffering which has taken place throughout theplay.
Edgar is a fit character to end the play with because he has withstood somany grievous occurrences. He is a model character in that he alone illustratesa number of types of suffering. He has suffered in both a physical and mentalsense. He is able to speak of the suffering of the play because he has playedsuch a big part in resolving and overcoming them. His rise to royalty in theplay shows how the plot and sub-plot have converged. His personal sufferingallow him to make an unbiased and calm statement after the death of Lear.
Hehas 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 charactersalong with their personal desire cause them to be biased and sometimespredictable in their actions.
Often times, it is the obstruction created byother characters which prevents them from seeing clearly. Eventually, in theclimactic play’s end, all wrong is corrected, unfortunately at the cost ofseveral lives of many innocent people, making King Lear a true tragedy. English