Examples Of Forgiveness In King Lear

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Nobody is capable of changing the past. A person’s mistakes and the pain that they inflict on other people are permanent and irreversible. The potential to repair the damage lies by changing the future, not the past. Many characters in William Shakespeare’s play, King Lear, realize their mistakes by suffering, and attempt to correct them through good deeds. Lear’s experience with poverty helps him recognize his misconception of love and accept Cordelia’s forgiveness. Gloucester’s loss of sight makes him see his misjudgement, which he rectifies by obeying a higher being. Edmund feels sorrow for his actions and decides to do good by trying to save Cordelia and Lear’s lives. In the play, the suffering of the characters, Lear, Gloucester,…show more content…
Ironically, Gloucester can only see his error when he cannot see the world around him. When Gloucester has his eyes plucked out and suffers permanent blindness, he laments, “O my follies! Then Edgar was abused./ Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!” (III,vii,92-93). His physical and emotional suffering makes him see the truth that Edmund is the son that never loved him, and the loyal son is the banished Edgar. Since Gloucester cannot express penitence to his loving son, he instead relies on divine powers for forgiveness and Edgar’s prosperity. In his troubled mind, Gloucester formed the idea that the only path the gods have given him for atonement is suicide. He attempts this by throwing himself off a cliff. After believing that he survived the fall, he says, “I do remember now. Henceforth I’ll bear/ Affliction till it do cry out itself,/ “Enough, enough,” and die” (IV,vi,75-77). Gloucester believes that he is alive because of a miracle from the angels. He comes to the conclusion that if they want him to live and persevere, then he must do so and only die when allowed. Gloucester must obey the heavens because only the gods can bring his salvation and Edgar’s well-being. Gloucester’s duty sees results, as he is able to receive Edgar’s love and the fulfillment of…show more content…
He does not admit the error of his ways until he is defeated and wounded by Edgar. Edgar defeats Edmund in a trial by combat, and tells him about their father’s sorrow and grief. Upon this, Edmund comments, “This speech of yours hath moved me,/ And shall perchance do good” (V,iii,199-200). Edmund learns of Gloucester’s misfortunes, and it pains his heart to see what his betrayal has brought upon his brother and father. Edmund is able to see the hideousness of his crimes when he is suffering from his physical wound and the guilt that wears on him. This guilt eats away at his remaining conscience, and he decides to do some good for other people to rectify his previous actions. He tries to save Cordelia and Lear’s lives by confessing, “I pant for life. Some good I mean to do,/ Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send/ (Be brief in’t) to the castle; for my writ/ Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia” (V,iii,243-246). Edmund is starting to feel that his death is at hand. The wound that Edgar inflicts on him is slowly killing him. In the last moments of his life, Edmund experiences a change of heart, and is determined to save Cordelia and Lear to compensate for the lives he ruined. He takes full responsibility in issuing the death warrant for the pair, and since he cannot save them himself, he urges the Albany and Edgar to take action. This
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