A Lesson Learned Too Late in King Lear Essay

1184 Words5 Pages
A Lesson Learned Too Late in King Lear

In the first half of the play, King Lear struggles with the problem of authority and the consequences of giving his own authority away. Lear’s eventual loss of sanity is a result of his ill judgement and unwillingness to part with his power as king. Yet, the issue of authority is not the only theme that is being dealt with in the play. King Lear is also about Lear’s search for identity and wisdom in his old age. The play explores the concept of the human worth in regards to Lear and the other characters associated with him. In addition, the play is about the shifting definition of Lear’s identity and human worth. Although the majority of the play is spent presenting the audience with
…show more content…
Yet, Lear’s inability to accept the consequences of his choice prepares his character for change. Lear is portrayed as fighting first against his own decision, and then against fate and the forces of nature. In a sense, the heath scene represents a type of death for Lear. Lear’s unwillingness to accept the newly appointed authority of Goneril and Regan is in accord with his “battle” on the heath. In the heath scene, Lear challenges the elements with his “blow, winds, and crack your cheeks” speech (III.ii.1). His inability to accept his own fate is dramatized with this scene in which he is reduced to a “slave” of the elements and is made to see himself as “a poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man” (19-20). The heath scene marks Lear’s death as a king and he is (in his own words) reduced to a “poor, bare, forked animal” (III.iv.110).

Additionally, the progression of Lear’s character does not end with his self-recognition as a “poor, bare, forked animal”. Strangely enough, it is through his madness that Lear actually gains true wisdom and is able to view his own situation with clarity. It is also through the course of his madness that he is able to recognize himself as a “very foolish fond old man” as well as to recognize Cordelia. However, the fact that Lear and Cordelia come
Open Document