Essay on Deception in Shakespeare's King Lear

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Deception in King Lear


In King Lear, the characters deceive one another constantly. Most of them deliberately misrepresent themselves, but others are naturally difficult to understand. Some are trying to gain power while others are protecting themselves. There is an extreme contrast between reality and what each character appears to be to the other characters. This quality about the characters fuels the plot, bringing it to its ultimate end.


The Fool is ironically different from his title. While the fool is commonly an idiot, Lear's fool seems to understand the political situation better that the king himself. His jokes and songs seem to be aimed at teaching Lear about the errors he has made rather than at making
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Cordelia's confession of love is not as convincing, but she is the only one telling the truth. Soon it is revealed that the two older sisters only wanted power. Contrary to their speeches of love, they take the opportunity as soon as Lear has nothing but a title, thinking nothing of insulting him, firing his knights, and putting his servant in the stocks. Cornwall conspires with them to rule Britain. They are the opposite of what they pretended to be for Lear. However, Cordelia is the one Lear renounced. She displays her love for him at the end of act four when she tries to nurture him back from his mental collapse. King Lear gave everything to those who wanted to destroy him and cast out the one who loved him because he could not discern between the lies and reality.


Edmund is the most methodical in his deceptions. Both he and his brother seem oddly adept at trickery, but Edmund fooled his brother and his father. First he forges a letter to turn Gloucester against Edgar. Then he convinces Edgar to leave, which will only make the legitimate son look guilty. He tells him that he has read the stars and that Edgar should flee. While Edmund does not believe astrology works, he is very intelligent and knows that he can use it to his advantage. He uses this to maintain his visage of innocence. Continuing the charade, he convinces his father to
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