Theme of Justice in King Lear

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Samantha Campbell
Lesson Nine
Justice in King Lear
Many themes appear in King Lear, but one of the most common relates to the theme of justice. William Shakespeare often makes references to the gods. They are seen as both just and unjust. Justice is an essential factor in the civilized human life. It is the quality of being just or fair, the rights and the assignment of rewards and punishments. In King Lear, many of the ‘good guys’ die as well as the ‘bad guys’. Is this justified? In this Shakespeare tragedy, some justice is present, but there are more injustices towards the innocent characters. Kent, for example is sent away from the kingdom because of his honesty. The King is beginning to lose his sanity and he does not realize that the decisions that he is making are incorrect. Secondly, Cordelia did not deserve the punishment that she received. She is banished from her home as well, and later dies when Edmund locks her and King Lear up in prison. Both Kent and Cordelia receive unfair punishments. On the other hand, Goneril and Regan deserve the treatments that they get. The theme of justice is illustrated by the actions of Kent, the Fool, King Lear and also his three daughters.

Kent is treated poorly by King Lear; he is honest, but the King does not realize this. Kent was in fact right from the beginning. Cordelia should receive the land rather than his other two daughters, Regan and Goneril, “thy youngest daughter does not love thee least, nor are those empty-hearted, whose low sounds reverb no hollowness.” (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 152-154) Kent was loyal and yet he received very little reward for his actions. He served King Lear, both as a servant, and earlier as his Earl, and even though Kent was banished from the empire, his purpose in life was to serve his master, Lear. When the King says, “He’s a good fellow, I can tell you that; He’ll strike and quickly too. He’s dead and rotten,” (Act 5, Scene 3, Line 282, 283) and Kent replies with,...
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