King Lear

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King Lear and Dementia: A Physical and Emotion Struggle
The opening scene of King Lear begins to show the unhealthy state that King Lear is in, when it portrays Lear separating his kingdom and giving it to his daughters based on how much they love him. Lear bans his most prized daughter, Cordelia from the kingdom and leaves her with nothing only because she was honest with her response, which begins to show his state of senselessness. Lear demonstrates his mental illness throughout various scenes in the play. He completely loses order of his kingdom, which goes along with losing all his powers, duties, and responsibilities as King. He finds it troubling to separate his job as a monarch and his duty as a father as his illness progresses. Lear begins to reflect on his mistakes as a monarch when he realizes his mental illness. These coincide with some major themes throughout the play.

Throughout the play, Lear’s state of dementia worsens. As his two malicious daughters rule the kingdom, and mistreat Lear, Lear regrettably begins to realize what his actions entail for him and the kingdom. He explains to Edgar and Gloucester that Goneril and Regan “say 'ay' / and 'no' to every thing that I said!--'Ay'

and 'no' / too was no good divinity” (IV. VI. 110-2). This realization that Regan and Goneril do not have Lear’s best interest at heart progresses the King’s anger for his mistakes even more. He also explains that, “O Regan, Goneril! / Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all,-- / O, that way madness lies; let me shun that; / No more of that” (III. IV. 22-5). This shows that he realizes that his illness has caused him to give his kingdom to his wretched daughters and he abandoned his true, honest daughter. Now, aware of his illness, Lear begins to ponder on his actions as King. He states, “. O, I have ta'en / Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp; / Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, / That thou mayst shake the superflux to them, / And show the heavens more just” (III. IV. 36-40). This entails that the King is now realizing that he has let down the homeless in his community and throughout his reign as King, did nothing to help them. This awareness only developed when the King was left with nothing and had to hide in the cave for shelter from the storm. He had now felt what it was like to live the life of a homeless person and now is regretting his actions as King. He wishes that as King he would have done more to help those who needed it, but now, realizing his state of dementia and how he gave his power as King to his daughters, he can no longer do much to help the poor. This realization of his mental state is an important aspect throughout the play. It is the turning point that Lear now realizes his actions were unacceptable and abandoned the one person who actually loved him. He realizes

his mistakes as King but now has no power to change the kingdom for the better. It now lies in the hands of Goneril and Regan. The violation of order in the kingdom throughout King Lear leads to dictatorship, cruelty, death and moral disorder. In the opening scene, Lear is dividing the kingdom based on how much his daughters love him. After both Goneril and Regan flatter their father with their exaggerated claim that they love him more than even their husbands, Cordelia gives an honest response that "I love your Majesty/ According to my bond, nor more nor less." (I. I. 94-5). This angers the King and he gives the kingdom to Goneril and Regan based on their answers. This scene identifies the cause of tragedy as the failure of Lear to distinguish dishonesties from truth, fawning from worship, and words from deeds. This is the main cause of destruction of the kingdom. Lear’s blindness to see the distinction of the greed of Goneril and Regan’s ambition and the honesty that Cordelia shows portrays that the King is suffering from dementia but has no realization of it. With Goneril and Regan now having power of the...
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