Progress In Shakespeare's King Lear

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It has always been in human nature to want to progress. Wherever we go, we always hear about the “next big thing,” whether it be a new smartphone or a breakthrough in medicine that touches on many social issues, bringing up a debate on whether or not the end justifies the means. This will for progress sometimes ends with negative results, however, no matter what the original intention may have been. There are many examples in Shakespeare’s King Lear that expertly demonstrates that, although the goal may be aiming for improvement or progress, the end does not justify the means.
In King Lear, one of the most famous quotes is said by the Duke of Albany, who is married to Goneril. After Goneril has driven away her father, King Lear, from her
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He asks Lear to rethink his decision, calling it rash,, and that Cordelia does not love him the least. This ends poorly for Kent, as he is then banished from the kingdom, while Cordelia, although she is now disowned, still marries the King of France, and goes to live with him. Lear’s decision to disown Cordelia turns out to be a horrible one, as she was the only one truthful about her love to her father. Without Cordelia, Lear is forced to live with one of Goneril or Regan. However, both Goneril and Regan are plotting against Lear, and end up leaving him stripped of his power and integrity. Cordelia was the only to be honest, and although it is generally a good trait to have, her honesty towards Lear is what causes her to be disowned. This shows Albany’s quote, as the family was fine before, but when Lear was “striving to better,” he made what he already had worse.
In the end, however, being disowned is the least of Cordelia’s problems. When the French are defeated by the English forces led by Edmund, Lear and Cordelia are captured. When they are confronted by Edmund, they are sentenced to prison. Edmund then orders a guard to execute them, before Edgar can intervene. Cordelia is killed before she can be freed, and Lear dies of a broken heart. This shows that, had Cordelia done what her father had asked rather than saying nothing, she would have led a better
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During Edmund’s rise to power, Edgar is forced into hiding, and his father is branded a traitor. Gloucester’s eyes are put out when he is caught by Regan and Cornwall, and dies later in the play, knowing what Edmund has done. It is Edmund who orders the death of Cordelia, Lear’s youngest daughter, and Lear. It is also because of him that Goneril and Regan are both dead, due to his promise of marriage to both of them causes them to fight over him, and ends up with Regan being poisoned, and Goneril committing suicide. Edmund’s power is short-lived, as he is defeated by Edgar shortly after taking the power for himself. Edmund realizes that what he has done is wrong, saying, “I pant for life. Some good I mean to do, / Despite of mine own nature” (5.3.280–81). In saying this, Edmund recognizes that the end results did not justify his actions, and that he wishes to repent for his wrongdoings. This is another example of how Albany’s quote comes into play, as when Edmund is “striving to better,” and become better than his brother, he made what was fine before into a tragedy.
Two other characters in King Lear working for self-gain are Goneril and Regan. Both have the same motive: to take all the power for themselves, usually at the expense of the other. In the beginning, they are seen to be working together, but towards the later parts of King Lear, it is shown that they are competing each other for

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