lear character - 1 Wagner Shakespeare Paper 2 Character...

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1 Wagner Shakespeare Paper 2: Character Analysis August 17, 2013 King Lear: Clarity Through Madness At the beginning of Shakespeare’s King Lear , King Lear enters his throne room as a man in possession of great power, faithful servants, and a loyal daughter, Cordelia. He also holds a vain desire for public admiration and flattering, and a naïve confidence in the greedy, selfish natures of his eldest daughters Goneril and Regan. This prideful attitude proves to be his downfall as he allows it to dictate the division of his kingdom among his treacherous daughters, the exiling of his beloved Cordelia and loyal servant Kent, and ultimately his own exile at the hands of Goneril and Regan into the wilderness where he descends into madness. However, out of his insane wanderings on the stormy heath bemoaning his daughters’ betrayal and guilt for exiling Cordelia, a new clarity and recognition of reality emerges. As Lear’s mind descends into the depths of insanity and he loses much coherence and following of social norms, he also shows a remarkable degree of understanding, finally revealing that, despite or perhaps because of his madness, he has a deeper, clearer sense of the world around him than he did at the play’s opening when he was in his right mind. The central character King Lear begins the play with a warped sense of reality and system of values, descends into a state of madness, and finally reaches a state of clarity due to this madness. Although this proves to be a destructive process that ultimately kills him, it allows Lear to come to a clear understanding of himself, others, and the value of loyalty before his death in the final scene.
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2 At the beginning of the play, King Lear displays a distorted value system and view of reality. First, his entire plan in Act 1 to divide his kingdom simply based on oral professions of love reveals a value system that places pride-building affirmations above actual care (I.i.1-160). His warped sense of reality again surfaces when he foregoes the
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