King Lear: Consequences of One Man's Decisions

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King Lear: Consequences of One Man's Decisions

Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear is a detailed description of the consequences of one man's decisions. This fictitious man is Lear, King of England, who's decisions greatly alter his life and the lives of those around him. As Lear bears the status of King he is, as one expects, a man of great power but sinfully he surrenders all of this power to his daughters as a reward for their demonstration of love towards him. This untimely abdication of his throne results in a chain reaction of events that send him through a journey of hell. King Lear is a metaphorical description of one man's journey through hell in order to expiate his sin.

As the play opens one can almost immediately see that Lear begins to make mistakes that will eventually result in his downfall. The very first words that he speaks in the play are :-

"...Give me the map there. Know that we have divided In three our kingdom, and 'tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age,
Conferring them on younger strengths while we
Unburdened crawl to death..."
(Act I, Sc i, Ln 38-41)

This gives the reader the first indication of Lear's intent to abdicate his throne. He goes on further to offer pieces of his kingdom to his daughters as a form of reward to his test of love.

"Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
And here are to be answered. Tell me, my daughters
(Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state),
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend
where nature doth with merit challenge."
(Act I, Sc i, Ln 47-53)

This is the first and most significant of the many sins that he makes in this play. By abdicating his throne to...
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