Justice of King Lear

Topics: King Lear, William Shakespeare, Criminology Pages: 2 (671 words) Published: September 1, 2011
Justice Verses Mercy in maintaining a fair and supportive world

Nothing more and nothing less, this is the basis of all consequence and reward in a just society. Although both justice and mercy together are needed to maintain a functioning society, the presence of justice is essential in order to maintain a fair and supportive world. Throughout the play King Lear, by William Shakespeare, many characters experience their own level of justice, both fair and excessive. Justice is essential in any society in order to maintain structure and authority. Justice is also important to ensure the victim feels secure and satisfied after a crime is committed against them and lastly justice allows a person to take responsibility for their actions and grow as a person.

Every functioning society relies on structure and authority to maintain order. Structure and authority can only be maintained in society when true justice is present. Without consequence there would be no need for any laws. In the play Gloucester believes that the gods misuse their power of authority and bring justice in whichever way they desire “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; /They kill us for their sport. “ (4.1.37–38). Gloucester believes the chaos in society is caused by the unfair and excessive actions of the Gods. It is only through true justice that structure and authority will be reestablished. Justice is essential for a fair and supportive world, not only fair to the offender but the victim as well.

Most victims want their offender to “pay” for the crimes they committed. It is only threw justice that a victim can feel secure and satisfied after a crime is committed. In the play Albany demands that King Lear’s’ eldest’s daughters be held responsible for their actions, and that justice be served “If that the heavens do not their visible spirits/ Send quickly down to tame these vile offenses, / It will come / Humanity must perforce prey on itself, / Like monsters...

Cited: Shakespeare, William.  King Lear. Ed. G.K. Hunter. London; New York: Penguin Books, 1972.
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