" King Lear "

















" King Lear "


An important idea present in William Shakespeare’s " King

Lear " is rejection and the role this rejection plays in the experiences

of the involved characters. The important ideas to be considered

here are the causes and effects associated with the act of rejection.

The most important situations to be considered in the story of

" King Lear " are those that develop between the two fathers, Lear

and Gloucester, and their children, Goneril and Regan, Cordelia,

Edmund, and Edgar. Each case falls on a different plane, but it is

important to consider the similarities between the positions of Lear

and Gloucester.

The rejection of Lear by his two daughters, Goneril and Regan,

can be seen as a type of revenge. Throughout their lives they had

always been far behind Cordelia in the king’s eyes. As a result of

this second-hand treatment, Goneril and Regan carried with them

an immense amount of hatred and when Lear divided his kingdom

between them, they both openly rejected his presence in their lives.

" Some other time for that. - Beloved Regan, she hath tied

sharp-tooth’d unkindness, like a vulture here, - I can speak scarce to

thee ; thou’lt not believe with how depraved quality - O Regan

( King Lear II.iii )! Goneril’s response further clarifies this

rejection. " Good sir, no more ; these are unsightly tricks : return

you to my sister ( King Lear II.iii ). Lear’s reaction is pure rage.

He understands that he had not given them too much of his time,

but he had given them their percentage of the kingdom only because

they had made a pledge to him that they would care for him in his

elder years. The bond broken in this situation is a very weak one.

The only thing that held it together was this flimsy pledge that the

daughters had no intention of honoring. But no matter the

conditions, he was their father and his well-being was a sort of

payment for their very existence.

Cordelia’s rejection of Lear breaks a much stronger bond. Lear

loses his entire life purpose when Cordelia turns Lear away.

" Good my lord, you have begot me, bred me, lov’d me : I

return those duties back as are right fit, obey you, love

you, and most honour you. Why have my sisters husbands

if they say they love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,

that Lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry half

my love with him, half my caret duty : Sure I shall never

marry like my sisters to love my father all ( King Lear I.i )

When Cordelia gave Lear this response, he was all alone. The one

person he expected to be there for him in his old age and take care

of him as he had done her was no longer an option. Lear was forced

to fall back on his other daughters, who were unreliable in any

sense. When Cordelia is unable to pledge her complete love to Lear

he banishes her to France. In the end she is the only family by his

side. She was the only one honest with Lear and she pays for her

honesty. In the end the relationship is restored. She is by his side

until the time of her death. For the first time Lear realizes that he

had been asking too much from her and at his own expense for she

had more than enough love in her heart for him all along.

The two cases involving Gloucester fall on a similar plane. The

first to be examined is Edmund’s rejection of his father. The motive

behind this case is nothing but pure evil. Edmund has everything a

man could ever want, but for some reason he does not feel like he

belongs. From the beginning he is working against his brother’s

name, which in fact was a very pure one. " Here stood he in the

dark, his sword out, mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the

moon ( King Lear II.i ). He has full possession of his father’s love,

but he feels a need to assure it by making his brother out to be a

much more evil person than he ever was.