Mercy, an act of kindness, clemency and compassion is essential to all civilized human life. Throughout William Shakespeare’s play, King Lear, a clear demonstration that the absence of mercy leads to the downfall of kingdoms and of relationships is apparent through the following:
firstly, insufficient mercy leads to disparaging relationships and the downfall of kingdoms;
secondly, Cordelia shows mercy towards her father, King Lear after Lear casts her out of the kingdom when she does not heed to his ego thus demonstrating the restoration of their relationship;
and lastly, Edgar’s critical act of mercy which led to Gloucester’s epiphany regarding his trust in Edmund
All three matters explored within Shakespeare’s King Lear demonstrate that mercy is a critical aspect to humanity and without the experience of both giving and receiving mercy; humans would lack the insight to establish justice within society.
First, Edmund helps us understand that a lack of mercy leads to deceit and the destruction of relationships and kingdoms.
| |“Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion. | | |Of my more fierce endeavor. | | |(cuts his own arm) | | | I have seen drunkards | | |Do more than this in sport.—Father, father!— | | |Stop, stop!—No help?” |
(Act II scene i lines 35-40)
In this passage Edmund cuts his own arm making his father Gloucester believe that Edgar, his other son has struck him with his sword. This is part of Edmunds plan to cast his brother out of his father’s life to gain position in his father’s kingdom. Furthermore, in the following passage Edmund convinces his father that Edgar was attempting to conspire to kill him.
“Persuade me to the murder of your lordship,
But that I told him the revenging gods
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