In the play King Lear, the idea of redemption is predominant throughout as we watch as the King moves from a state of moral blindness to one of clear vision. At the beginning of the play we see how ignorant he his towards how Goneril, Regan and Cordelia really think of him. As the play progresses however he begins to see and understand the truth. Lears childlike, immaturity that later turns to insanity is brought about by the other characters around him, and by the end of the play we see the aftermath of all the characters mistakes including Lear.
The fact that King Lear is a play of redemption where, the King is crazy, but moves to a state of clear vision is based heavily around the characters that mold him into the man he is. For example characters such as Goneril are fundamental in Lear’s journey from insanity to the clear vision that he finds at the end of the play. At the start of the play we see Goneril and her sister Regan lie to their father Lear. Lear asks them how much they love him and in accordance to what they say they will receive an inheritance of Lear’s kingdom.
“Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter. -Goneril (Act I, Scene I, Line 57) – This quote from Goneril tells us that Goneril has lied to Lear and told him that her love for him is indescribable, just so that they can gain control over his land. Regan agrees to this and Lear gives them his Kingdom. Lear stops off at Goneril’s castle and throws a party. At the party, Goneril instructs her servants to be rude to the Lear’s guests, just so it will create tension between the two of them. “By day and night he wrongs me. Every hour he flashes into one gross crime or other that sets us all at odds.
I’ll not endure it. “- Goneril ( Act I, Scene III, Line 4) – This quote from Goneril tells us that she is fed with Lear’s ridiculous behaviour, and she will tolerate it no longer. Lear is astounded by Goneril’s stubbornness towards him he curses by wishing that she never have children. Lear, who is outraged by this, leaves and heads to find his servant Kent, only to find him put in the stocks by Regan. “Tis worse than murder. “-Lear ( Act II, Scene IV, Line 18) This outrages Lear even more towards his two daughters.
The madness behind the character King Lear himself is due to the fact that he was to ignorant to see that Goneril and Regan lied to him and that he has just banished his only honest daughter. In the beginning of act three, scene two, we find Lear just after he has been made aware of his banishment. He is outside, in the heart of a vicious storm. After what has just happened to him he seems to have nothing left to live for, now that two of his wicked, lying daughter have banished and betrayed him and he himself banished his only good and honest daughter; because of this he cries out, hoping to die. Singe my white head.
And thou, all-shaking thunder, strike flat the thick rotundity o’th’ world. ” (Act III, Scene II, Line 6 ) – Lear blames that nature is responsible for what has happened and has realised where he has gone wrong in the division of his kingdom and he can no longer see what he has left to live for so he asks nature to kill him. Lear’s Fool attempts to comfort him and tries to convince him that it would be a good idea if apologized to his daughters for being the way he has been. Good Nuncle in; ask thy daughters blessing”-Fool (Act III, Scene II, Line 12) – This is fool attempting to comfort Lear. However he refuses and continues to curse the skies. In Act III, Scene VI is where we may see Lear’s craziness in it’s fullest extent. We see Lear, the Fool and Edgar taking refuge within a building with Gloucester. When Gloucester is gone the seem to start hallucinating and pretend to run a trial for the crimes of Lear’s daughters against him. “I’IL see their trial first.
Bring in their evidence”and “Tis Goneril, 1 here take my oath before this honorable assembly, she kicked the poor King her father”-Lear ( Act III, Scene VI, Line 35-36 and 47 ) – These are both quotes that show us how much Lear has been beaten mentally and how these last few events have affected his life. Through this madness he comes to know where his true friends are, Cordelia. Throughout the play he comes to realize that it was her who was nothing but honest and loved hms as much as a daughter can love her father, and how Regan and Goneril are deceitful and lied to him.
The quotes and evidence in this paragraph show that Lear discovers that his daughters, and this fuels his madness. Cordelia is an extremely important character that fundamental contribution to the character development of Lear. In the beginning of the play we see her as the honest daughter. The one who really deserves his inheritance. When Lear asks her how much she loves she responds with “Half my love with him, half my care and duty”-Cordelia ( Act I, Scene 1, Line 104). This is Cordelia saying that she loves her father as much as a father can be loved by his daughter.
But she is reserving have of her love, care and responsibility for her future husband. Lear is outraged because of this, she did not give him her heart simply because she is saving it for someone else it seems. As a result of this of this, he disowns and banishes Cordelia ” and thou my sometime daughter”. – Lear. (Act I, Scene 1, Line 122) This shows the audience that Lear is easily deceived and immature, and that he has justed started the start of something terrible. These events that have just happened so far in the play only prepare for the madness and tragedy the audience will soon witness.
In, Why Cordelia Must Die by John E. Van Domelen, we are told of the effect that Cordelia’s life and death (the life and death of Lear’s only honest child) has on Lear. “Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth”- Cordelia ( Act 1, Scene 1, Line 91-92 )- Van Domelen states “The weight of her love is too heavy, to massive, too firmly rooted in her heart to be mined and turned into verbal currency”- pg. 133. This tells us that the love that Cordelia has in her heart is too rich, too deep, to simply be turned into cheap, empty words. Lear then curses her. A stranger to my heart and me and hold this from thee forever”- Lear (Act I, Scene I, Line 115-116 )- Van Domelen tells us” The divorce between Lear’s heart and self is even more appalling than his repudiation of his daughter. This separation between heart and self is not ended until his eventual reunion with Cordelia”- pg. 133. This quote is the evidence that Lear’s heart has been separated from his true self. This separation is not mended until he eventually reunites with Cordelia before they die. This evidence shows that it is Cordelia the key character behind the development of the character of Lear.
It is Cordelia who reveals to Lear to truth behind his corrupt daughters Goneril and Regan and it is Cordelia who shows Lear what love really is. Justice and punishment in King Lear helps the King to see his errors and he himself and others are punished. In King Lear we see characters punished for human faults such as arrogance, ignorance and pride, these characters include Lear, and Goneril, however some characters have have done no such thing and yet are still punished, such as Cordelia. Cordelia’s death in the play shows us as the audience how the world and how life isn’t fair.
Lear’s mistakes have horrific consequences that he, in the end has to answer for. But unintentionally, Cordelia has to answer for them also. Cordelia’s death can been seen for punishment for Lear’s mistakes. In the beginning of the play Lear shows Cordelia an extremely unreasonable punishment for disappointing him. In the process Goneril and Regan were put in control of Lear’s kingdom. This foolish mistake means that as well as Lear suffering, Cordelia also suffers as a result, even though she was the only one who really loved Lear. gentle and low an excellent thing in a woman”-Lear (Act V, Scene III, Line 275)- These are Lear’s words as he looks down upon Cordelia’s dead body. He finally realizes that she was the one who loved him. After all the pain and suffering they have both endured Lear finally realizes and accepts the truth. In Natural Justice and King Lear by Paul M. Shupack, he highlights how audiences were left shocked with Cordelia’s death because of it was unbelievable to take in the of all people, Cordelia, the daughter that had nothing but love for her father suffered and died for his mistakes.
Paul M. Shupack states “The horror of Cordelia’s death struck 18th century sensibilities as a violation of the naturally just moral order, much as the gratuitous pain the wasps caused violated that principle. Her death goes beyond tragedy because it is gratuitous. It denies the necessity of a just natural order. “pg. 68. He tells us of the shock that audiences faced that a character such as Cordelia must suffer, especially after she was banished just from loving Lear as her father. Lear’s example of punishment comes from his ignorance to how Goneril and Regan really feel towards him.
As a result of being too blind to see the truth, he loses his kingdom and is banished and then loses his mind before finally the ultimate punishment which is his death. Throughout King Lear, through the events of the life of the King himself and the events in the lives of the characters around him he moves from a state of moral blindness to to one of clear vision. This happens through themes such as punishment and justice. Character development of his surrounding characters and events that he and the other characters go through.