King Lear Justice vs. Mercy

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“Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just” were words said by Blaise Pascal (1623-1663). If mercy was really that important, a great mind like Blaise Pascal would have inserted “mercy” in his quote. Justice is by far the most critical component of society in the King Lear universe. Mercy is only valid on individual basis, when the assailant actually learns from their mistakes. If we think that by forgiving constantly that the perpetrator will stop committing crimes, then we are sadly mistaken. Criminals in Shakespeare’s King Lear must be punished justifiably, for their evil behavior. Only justice and great power can attempt to restore the order of King Lear’s kingdom ruined by the dictatorship of Goneril and Regan.

Even if Regan was forgiven for her crimes, she would continue her sinister ways. She is the most evil person in the King Lear universe; her thirst for total power through corruption has no end. She even goes on to the extent of double crossing her sister Goneril. She plots on having Edmond for herself and ordering that Gloucester be killed. As if gouging out his eyes was not enough: “My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talk'd; / and more convenient is he for my hand. / Than for your lady's: you may gather more. / If you do find him, pray you, give him this; / And when your mistress hears thus much from you, / I pray, desire her call her wisdom to her. / So, fare you well. / If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor, / Preferment falls on him that cuts him off” (IV v 32-42). Regan has no morals or feelings. Knowing that her husband just died, she is already seeking another husband. She also has no mercy towards Gloucester. Due to the lack of justice, Regan continues committing great crimes. Only until she is poisoned by her own sister, a harsh justice is finally served upon her. In Regan’s case mercy is not an option, Justice is the only way.

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