king Lear lessons

King lear lessons

Refusing to consent: A form of resistance

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Scholars have observed that Shakespeare’s works can help us question what we think we know and re-learn the lessons we thought we already knew.

Lear calls his court to announce his retirement as the play opens. He commands his daughters to tell his court how much they love them during his ceremonial withdraw. He tells them that they will be rewarded once they have done so with their third share of the kingdom.

The king has assembled the audience and set the stage, but his stage-managed performance is doomed: Lear didn’t make them aware of their expectations and they arrive unprepared.

Cordelia, his youngest child, cries about her awkward situation. She worries about Cordelia’s awkward situation and makes a side-eye comment: “What will Cordelia say?” Love and be silent.

Accepting “ambiguous” situations

Many of us have been in situations where someone is rude or disruptive, but we don’t want to be silent. These are “ambiguous” situations, according to Catherine Sanderson, a psychologist. These are “ambiguous” situations, according to Catherine Sanderson, a psychologist.

Cordelia is confronted with a difficult decision when she realizes that her sisters are willing to comply. Cordelia decides to ignore her father’s orders and says: “I cannot heave/ My heart into mine.”

She refuses to take part in the love test. Her one-word answer (“nothing”) to Lear’s request is the opposite of being silent. Lear’s domestic drama is clearly indicted by her answer. She refuses to consent.

Learn how to get consent

Cordelia’s story doesn’t end with her refusing to consent. Her father refuses to give her the dowry she needs for marriage and exiles her. She leaves court with her integrity intact, and a plan for regrouping and returning. She continues to love her father, despite his treachery.

Cordelia holds true to Lear’s highest ideals without ever judging him in his worst moments and continues to love him. Cordelia teaches Lear and us how to get consent.

 

Lear acknowledges the reciprocal nature and need to approach future interactions with Cordelia through the lense of consent when Cordelia is reunited at the end. The king said: “When you ask me blessing, then I’ll kneel down/ And ask for thee forgiveness. So we’ll live. / And pray, sing, tell old stories, and laugh. / At gilded butterfly, and hear poor rebels. / Talk about court news

Lear learns an important lesson about consent. He realizes that he can’t control how their relationships unfold.

Instead, he views his role as a supplicant when says “I will kneel” and honors Cordelia’s autonomy and agency when he admits that it was her decision to ask for his blessing. He realizes that he must ask forgiveness.

 

Some critics believe these adjectives are not appropriate for King Lear. Thomas Roche, a critic, stated that the play’s end is “as bleak, unrewarding, as man can reach beyond the gates of hell”. (164). Roche’s pessimistic interpretation is certainly valid. After all, Lear saw nearly every person he cared for die before he died. This is a true aspect of the play, but it requires one to agree with this negative view. It means that Lear does not learn anything and suffers and dies in vain. Roche says that Lear cannot tell the difference between good and bad at the end of the play. “In his childish charades.” This shows that Lear doesn’t really understand the harsh realities of human existence. Lear, for example, claims that he divided his kingdom into three thirds so that he can “unburthened crawl towards death” and that everything will go according to plan. However, he is shown to be foolish when Regan, Goneril and others “hit together” and agree “to do something” and then “in the heat” to take away any power that their father has. Mack refers to this fast-moving series of events that follows Lear’s hasty abdication as “the waiting coil [that] leaps into life threatening consequences,” and it brings with it the clear message that Lear was wrong in rewarding his falsely flattering daughters with the gift that is his kingdom.

 

Lear’s gift of love to Goneril, and Regan, which shows the falsity of their father’s affections, proves that Lear cannot see the love that others have for them. Lear also reveals to Cordelia that he is, like Goneril or Regan, unable to have an altruistic love for someone else when he gets enraged at Cordelia.

 

 

We see right from the beginning the importance of honesty and telling the truth. Cordelia, Lear’s youngest child, does this when she is asked to confess how much her father loves her. However, Cordelia, who is lacking “that glib, oily art to talk and purpose not”, (Act 1, scene 1), is unable match the lies and flattery of her sisters Goneril, Regan, and is willing to accept the consequences (disinheritance, banishment).

The Earl of Kent is another example of the importance of loyalty, even when it is difficult. He is banished by Lear because he defended Cordelia but he stays close to the King to watch him faithfully to the end.

In a parallel story to Lear, Edgar is falsely reported to his brother Edmund as wanting his father, the Earl of Gloucester, to take his inheritance. He ends up following the blind Gloucester, but in the disguise of “poor Tom”, the madman, after the horrendous scene in which he was blinded in his own home by Regan and her husband. Edgar offers courage to his father when he declares that he has no way and does not want eyes. Act 4, scene 1. These last five words may have been a thought dawning within the mind of the blinded Gloucester, a lesson in how having his physical sight didn’t prevent him from seeing the truth. Shakespeare tells us that you can see, but not always understand.

One of the most valuable lessons we can learn about “King Lear” is compassion and self-knowledge. The King, who was homeless, throneless and abandoned by all except his faithful (if wittily critical), Fool, Edgar, disguised as Poor Tom (and unknown to him) has learned from firsthand experience when he talks about the “Poor naked Wretches… That wait the peltings of this pitiless Storm… ” concluding with:

“O, I have not ta’en/ Too little attention to this!

Praise the physick, pomp

Experiment with your feelings.

They may be shaken by your efforts.

Show the heavens that you are more than just.

Act III, scene 4.

This play’s last lesson is about forgiveness and reconciliation. Act IV scene 7 is the final meeting between Lear & Cordelia. Lear has just woken up and now recognizes Cordelia. He offers to take poison if Cordelia gives it to him.

“I know that you don’t love me; for my sisters

Have, as I do remember, done me wrong:

They have no cause. You have some cause.”

Cordelia’s answer is simple: “No cause, not cause.”

Although the deaths of Cordelia, Lear, and Cordelia may seem random, they are not. We gain a deeper understanding of life through them and other characters. It is often the good that suffers in an unfair world.

 

 

We see right from the beginning the importance of honesty and telling the truth. Cordelia, Lear’s youngest child, does this when she is asked to confess how much her father loves her. However, Cordelia, who is lacking “that glib, oily art to talk and purpose not”, (Act 1, scene 1), is unable match the lies and flattery of her sisters Goneril, Regan, and is willing to accept the consequences (disinheritance, banishment).

The Earl of Kent is another example of the importance of loyalty, even when it is difficult. He is banished by Lear because he defended Cordelia but he stays close to the King to watch him faithfully to the end.

In a parallel story to Lear, Edgar is falsely reported to his brother Edmund as wanting his father, the Earl of Gloucester, to take his inheritance. He ends up following the blind Gloucester, but under the disguise of “poor Tom”, the madman, after the horrendous scene in which he was blinded in his own home by Regan and her husband. Edgar offers courage to his father when he declares that he has no way and does not want eyes. Act 4, scene 1. These last five words may have been a thought dawning within the mind of the blinded Gloucester, a lesson in how having his physical sight didn’t prevent him from seeing the truth. Shakespeare tells us that you can see, but not always understand.

One of the most valuable lessons we can learn about “King Lear” is compassion and self-knowledge. The King, who was homeless, throneless and abandoned by all except his faithful (if wittily critical), Fool, Edgar, disguised as Poor Tom (and unknown to him), has learned from firsthand experience when he talks about the “Poor naked Wretches… That wait the peltings of this pitiless Storm… “.

“O, I have not ta’en/ Too little attention to this!

Praise the physick, pomp

Experiment with your feelings.

They may be shaken by your efforts.

Show the heavens that you are more than just.

Act III, scene 4.

This play’s last lesson is about forgiveness and reconciliation. Act IV scene 7 is the final meeting between Lear & Cordelia. Lear has just woken up and now recognizes Cordelia. He offers to take poison if Cordelia gives it to him.

“I know that you don’t love me; for my sisters

Have, as I do remember, done me wrong:

They have no cause. You have some cause.”

Cordelia’s answer is simple: “No cause, not cause.”

Although the deaths of Cordelia, Lear, and Cordelia may seem undeserved, they are not. We gain a greater understanding of life through them and other characters. It is often the good who suffer in an unfair world.

“King Lear,” as Shakespeare used it, is just as relevant today.

 

Janice Mermikli so succinctly outlined a variety of lessons from King Lear.

My overall lesson is to see the fragility of human life and realize that the divine right of ruling and standing above all others is a fantasy. Wealth, land ownership, dependents in the employ of you, are all powerful drivers in the world. However, the notion that an absolute King is “every inch one king” is only garments without the wealth and land holdings and the people who tend to them.

The retinue and the hangers-on are as useless without the power. 100 men could as easily be decreased by three quarters of a dozen to twenty five. “What do you need five, twenty, ten, or?” To follow in a home where twice as many have a command for you to take care of?

50 of these “twice as many” are now in Goneril’s house, having inherited 50% the land and power that was once owned by the abdicated King.

 

King Lear has some nihilist elements. A nihilistic play is one that leaves the feeling that both good and evil are meaningless.

Deception is a central theme in Lear. Lear demands that his daughters flatter him and exiles Cordelia for refusing. The next scene sees Edmund tricking his father into supporting Edgar. The audience sees clearly that Edmund, Goneril and Regan are evil in the first scenes of the play. They lie to get power and make terrible things happen, and they hurt their fathers deeply. This contrasts strongly with honest and good characters like Cordelia, Kent, Edgar, and the Fool. Cordelia believes her actions are more important than words. Kent and the Fool are brutally honest with Lear, and Edgar is faithful to his father.

As the play progresses, it becomes clear that honesty is not tied to goodness. Kent is so in love with Lear that he disguises himself to return to him and Edgar pretends to be protection, but he interacts with many of the central characters.

Although Kent’s deceit is fascinating, Edgar’s raises more moral questions. He is not trying to hide his evil intentions, like Kent, but he is doing it just to keep him safe. His mad ravings, disguised as Poor Tom refer to demons and his own demonic possession. This would have been shocking for Shakespeare’s audience. After he has attempted suicide, he tells his father that a demon left Gloucester. Although he does achieve good results with his deception it seems dark and immoral.

Shakespeare blurs the line between good and bad in his play about deceit. This is a strong nihilist part of the play.

Lear’s treatment of death is another nihilist aspect. The final scene

 

 

“King Lear,” as Shakespeare used it, is just as relevant today.