Parental Blindness / Filial Ingratitude / Madness Essay

This essay has a total of 1027 words and 4 pages.

Parental Blindness / Filial Ingratitude / Madness

As Shakespeare presents to us a tragic pattern of parental and filial love, in which a
prosperous man is devested of power and finally recognises his "folly", empathy is induced
in the audience. In "King Lear", it is noted from the beginning of the play that both Lear
and Gloucester suffer from self-approbation and will consequently find revelation by
enduring "the rack of this tough world". While Lear mistakenly entrusts the shallow
professions of love from his "thankless" daughters - Goneril and Regan - instead of the
selfless words of Cordelia, Gloucester shadows a similar ignorance by initially entrusting
love in the evil Edmund, rather than Edgar, whom we consider to be a "truly" loyal "noble

Undeniably, both parents misjudge appearance for reality, as it is only in this way that
they can "let the great gods that keep this dreadful pudder O'er [their] heads / Find out
their enemies" where "all vengeance comes too short". When Lear is rejected by Goneril and
Regan and stripped of his "hundred Knights and squires", he is left with "nothing" in the
wilderness, besides the loyal company of Kent and the Fool, and later on, Edgar and
Gloucester. It appears that at this stage he senses his "folly", that he "did [Cordelia]
wrong". But Lear has yet to gain full insight. Although, before entering the hovel, he
realises that he has been a "man more sinned against sinning", the process of
self-discovery is not complete until all truth is unveiled. As Lear realises his
foolishness in bannishing Cordelia - his "joy" and the only daughter who truly loves him -
we sense Lear's increasing sorrow and despair. By revealling his "sin", he is subjecting
himself to punishment. Perhaps it is a deserving motion, since he had passed judgement and
punished Kent and Cordelia for coming between "the dragon and his wrath", that is, him and
his power. Now the gods above rightfully control Lear's destiny, abiding by the process
that man has to suffer to gain peace.

At this particular moment, Lear is still unaware of Kent's identity, disguised as Caius,
ever since he bannished Kent for defending Cordeila's thoughtful choice to "love and be
silent". We understand that the disguise is a way in which Kent can protect and
continually serve the "poor, weak and infirm" Lear. Lear begins to accomplish
understanding through the change in his contemptuous behaviour to a sympathetic learning
man. Now he realises that his "wits begin to turn" and asks the Fool, "How dost my boy?
Art cold?", indicating a concern for other that has rarely been insinuated by Lear
throughout the play. In Lear's statement, " I am cold my self" feelings of Lear's
abandonement and lonliness emerge, although he is in the company of the "honourable" Kent
and the ironically mad but the wise Fool. It can be agreed that one pities Lear, after
all, he has succumbed "filial ingratitude" and oblivious kingship, resulting in self
affliction which peaks during the storm scene. But indifferent to his anguish cries of
"Blow winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!", he momentarily and calmly announces "Let
the great gods...find out their enemies now." It is also in this sane, "perfect frame of
mind" we witness when Lear "redeems all sorrows" with Cordelia in prison.
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