Lear's journey of finding self-knowledge
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 I'll show how Lear lacks self-knowledge at the start of the play. Then I'll shortly discuss what political effects the lack of self-knowledge has on the country. Third I'll 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 she'll 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, don't 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 Lear's hunger for honour to gain employment: "No, sir, but you have that in your countenance which I would fain call master". Lear: "What's that"? Kent: "Authority". Lear is blinded by his hunger and doesn't even know that the person, who he banished, is standing right in front of him.
We see that Lear's hunger for praise...
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