King Lear is s play about thatre and performance; Shakespear draws attention to the spectacle of power
Running head: KING LEAR 1
KING LEAR 4
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Power is the ability to manipulate and control what one desires. Shakespeare often uses the theme of power in his plays, where the main characters in desire of obtaining the power lose their morals. In the play King Lear, there are several characters who ruthlessly overuse their power and become blind both physically and mentally. The feeling of power and self-esteem is the main feature for the main characters of the play. In order to feel their status and authority they do not see where truth and where lie is. Shakespeare has written a tragedy that allows the audience to investigate how absolute power and authority are treated.
In this play, the theme of power plays an extremely significant role. Shakespeare shows how power can enslave people, and what victims they can bring to save or get the power. The main character of the play is King Lear, who decided to convey his power and authority between his daughters. He decides to make a contest, where a winner will be that daughter that loves him most. Even in this scene, it is possible to see how the king is willing to get power and feel his authority. Lear is willing to show and proof his power in every aspect, even in language. He says our majesty, and this signifies his attitude towards his personality, and his will to highlight his status as royal.
Lear has no idea how to keep the power and his status as a king from others without using power and authority. Come between the dragon and his wrath. (I.I.125) This quote portrays his power as he composes himself to a dragon, the most powerful, vigorous and untouchable creature in the world. Also, the fact that he is getting old and fatigued makes him weaker and vulnerable. Lears insecurity lets him become more thoughtless and egoistic.
As it was mentioned above, one of the obvious examples is the competition of love. He asks his daughters to express their legitimate love for him; however, it also shows his uncertainty, fear, and the fact that he is undoubtedly concerned about his existence. Lear says, Thou hast her, France; let her be thine, for we Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see that face of her again. Therefore begun, Without our grace, our love, our benison! (I.I 263-266) His blindness causes him to banish his daughter who shows her loyalty and love as much as a daughter should without any flattery and lies. Nonetheless, he makes himself shut out from true love and devotion by using his power. This scene is extremely significant for the play as it shows how the king appreciates his status and authority higher than love. Love for him means admiration of him that is why he asks to show and proof love towards him. Cornelia who loved him sincerely and did not want to take part in fake competition, was banished by him, while other sisters made every possible effort to get his authority and royalty, and lied to him all the time. In the end of the play, King Lear recognized the real values and admitted love of Cornelia. His other daughters cheated him, and wanted to kill him, while Cornelia was fighting against them to protect him. The king lived in the world created by himself, where there was a place only for him. His will to save the power destroyed him and prevented him from seeing real values and real love.
Another line in the play is the relationships between Gloucester and his sons. He as well as King Lear does not see the real attitudes of his children. When he became blind he got the truth about his sons and realized who really loves him. Edmund tries to kill him in order to get his status and power, while Edgar protects him and proofs his love towards him. Earl Gloucester was a self-esteemed and hypocritical person, who has weakness for women. Edmund was a child of one of his affaires, and earl had a negative attitude towards Edmunds mother and always reminded him about this. Edmund felt that Edgar had higher status, and wanted to change this situation by killing him and getting his power. After his struggles, Gloucester gets the wisdom. As it was a child of a sin, it is possible to notice that maybe he was a payback for earl. When his servant is willing to help him, he says Do as I bid thee, but then corrects himself and says "Or rather, do thy pleasure" (4.1.50). Only after times of struggles he begins to understand the real values, and becomes more sincere towards other people.
In conclusion, throughout King Lear, Shakespeare tells the audience that blindness can result from misinterpreting emotions and actions through ones power. The authors main theme in the play is power, and what dramatic consequences the will of power can bring. The results of both Lear and Gloucesters actions and emotions end up leading them to death because of their inability to see people. Overusing their power, it is possible to conclude that they got the wisdom and recognized real value only after cheating of their children and times of struggle. Both characters, King Lear and Earl Gloucester, put their status and their personalities at the most significant places, and did not notice real love of their children, and consequently paid extremely high cost for this blindness and selfishness.