King Lear Paper

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Isi Beach
Mrs. McElhiney
English III IB
18 February 2013

Shakespeare’s play King Lear documents the life a man who experiences a dramatic shift in worldview. The main character, King Lear, begins the play as a self-centered, proud, and materialistic man who cares less about his family than his reputation. By the end of the story, Lear is a humbled man who cares for his family more than his previously precious power. Lear’s strife broke him down until he was finally able to let go of his old perceptions and adopt a better outlook on life. Shakespeare chronicles Lear’s change from selfish to caring throughout the course of the story, and shows how the hardest of times can actually bring out the best in a person.

Lear’s old worldview places more importance on superficial, material things than on sincere and important values. At the beginning of the play, Lear was very concerned with maintaining his vast wealth, status, and power. When Lear was dividing up his kingdom among his three daughters, he gave the most land to the daughters who flattered him the most. Lear welcomed the flattery because it made him feel like a strong and powerful king. When Lear’s eldest daughters, Goneril and Regan, flattered him the most, Lear split the kingdom between them because they made him feel powerful. Lear completely disregarded and actually disowned his youngest daughter Cordelia because she refused to falsely over-flatter the king. Cordelia was just being honest in her modest praises of the king, but Lear wanted to hear more about how great of a ruler he was. So, when Cordelia didn’t make Lear feel big enough, he undermined even his so-called “strong” family values and disowned his favorite child. At this point in the play, Lear didn’t have a strong grasp on the important things in life, like genuine relationships or truthfulness and loyalty. King Lear tells Cordelia’s prospective husband to “…leave her, sir; for, by the power that made me, I tell you all her wealth”...
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