The Universal Truths of King Lear Essay

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The Universal Truths of King Lear

Edgar: O, matter and impertinency mixed, Reason in madness! (4.6.192-93)

Reason in madness, truth in suffering, and sight in blindness all

contain the same basic meaning. In order to find and recognize our real

selves and the truth, we must suffer. These various themes are continually

illustrated throughout Shakespeare's King Lear. Their effects are not

solely felt by Lear and Gloucester. All sincerely "good" characters in the

play must, in some way, suffer before they can gain wisdom and truth. Some

characters are made to suffer more, some less. The truths and wisdom

gained are what give the drama its substance. These truths are
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He is no longer writing his own truths. He

is forced to see and feel what many feel daily: rejection, deceit, pain,

etc. He slowly realizes Cordelia is his only truly loving daughter. He

could never realize this if he had not gone mad. His madness brings him to

a place where he no longer lives by the same code. In his madness, the

truths are not necessarily what he wants them to be. The storm allows him

to not only realize Cordelia loves him, but also to come to an

understanding of what real love is. He recognizes that Goneril and Regan

did not really love him. In the storm, Lear also is able to comprehend

that all people suffer. Throughout his entire life he has been the one in

control. In losing control to his madness, he no longer has the power to

hold off suffering. Without power, Lear is able to learn.

Gloucester also learns once he loses his power. The power he loses

is the power of sight. In his suffering, he gains knowledge of his sons.

He is able to see that Edgar is his true and good son, just as Lear learned

to see Cordelia. With his loss of sight, he is also able to see Edmund's

evil ways. With his blindness, comes sight, or moreover insight.

Gloucester, similarly to Lear, is not used to suffering. He feels his pain

is more unbearable than any other.

Gloucester: O
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