Mercy vs. Justice
How can mercy compete with justice to create an ordered and supportive world? King Lear is an excellent example of a world without justice. Justice allows for three things. When there is justice, natural laws are created, wrongs can be set right, and there are chances for mercy. Without justice, none of these would be possible. Therefore, it is essential for civilized human life.
Justice creates natural laws. At the beginning of King Lear, there iss justice, and certain unspoken laws are expected to be obeyed. Daughters are to obey, honour, and love their parents. A king is to keep his power until his death. Those loyal to a king are expected to be treated kindly for their faithfulness. Honourable people do not murder. These are only a few of the many natural laws that the world expects to be followed. Without justice, these laws would not be expected to be obeyed. Although there is justice near the beginning of the play, so many natural rules are broken that the characters find themselves in a world where there is no longer any justice. It is the breaking of the laws that leads to their downfalls.
Justice allows for wrongs to be made right. When King Lear gives away his power, “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 toward death” (I i 35-40), he is essentially breaking a natural law. His daughters also break a rule saying that children should honour and love their parents when they refuse to allow their father to keep his group of soldiers that give him respect and status. Regan states, “For his particular, I’ll receive him gladly,/ But not one follower” (II iv 289-290). Goneril replies by saying, “So am I purposed” (II iv 291). If there is no justice, none of these wrongs can be made right. The ‘good’ characters will never be recompensed for the wrongs afflicted upon them. Throughout the...
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