Analysis of the Commentary in King Lear
Carlos Eduardo Moliterno
The importance of Act V Scene iii lies on the theme Love and Duty – the guide to conscious. In this scene the play is already coming to an end, and the plot is finally getting to a closure. The quote “The wheel is come full circle; I am here.” on Act V Scene iii Line 211 summarizes the play and allows the audience to understand all of the character’s life throughout Shakespeare’s, King Lear. All of the characters in the play follow “the wheel” theory spoken about by Edmund. Some of the characters, like Edmund, started out the play as a bustard son, therefore he was on the bottom of the “wheel”. As the play progressed Edmund began to move up, for his treacherous plan was working as he expected. On Act V Edmund was defeated by his brother Edgard, which represents his downfall on the “wheel”.
“I pant for life. Some good I mean to do
Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send-
Be brief in it- to th’ castle, for my writ
Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia.
Nay, send in time.” (Act V Scene iii Line 291) This quote greatly contributes to the theme of guide to conscious. Edmund has been evil through out the play, and when he is near to his death, he decides to do one last good deed. In his mind, he feels it is his duty to clear his conscious before he dies. The quote above, in a way, also applies to Albany, who was also evil in the beginning of Shakespeare’s work. When the play starts coming to an end, Albany realizes his wrong actions and the actions of his wife, therefore deciding to change to a better person. King Lear fits on the Love category of the theme. It’s clear to the audience that Lear also follows the wheel theory described above, and at the end, he completes the full circle. Lear dies because of love, the love for his daughter. It’s his duty to reconcile with her after what he has done, and after she dies, he dies of grief and love. “Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou’lt come no more,
Never, never, never, never. –
Pray you undo this button. Thank you, sir.
[Do you see this? Look on her, look, her llips,
Look there, look there!
He dies.] Goneril and Regan also fit on the Love category, for they also died due because of Love. Their love for Edmund triggers their jealousy and eventually one sister kills the other. It is interesting to point out that Edgar also kills his own brother, but not for love, but for duty. After what his brother has done, Edgar feels like he must take him out. The play comes to an end with the death of many of the characters in the play. Regardless if they were good or evil, many of them die. The audience does not understand why characters like Cordelia die, since she was the most pure of all of the characters in the play. Shakespeare ended the life of his characters, despite their cruelty, for he wanted to symbolize how life really functions. He wanted to show, that it does not matter if you are good or evil, you will eventually die.