Psychological Destruction In William Shakespeare's King Lear

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In Shakespeare’s King Lear, the protagonist Lear tragically destroys himself. As a rash and passionate man, he makes a series of errors early in the play that compound antagonist efforts to overpower him. Lear misjudges his daughters greatly and sets the events in motion that ultimately lead to his downfall. When combined with physical age, the façade of nobility and psychological instability, Lear’s destruction is swift and tragic. King Lear’s demise occurs largely in part because of his own flaws as a character. Lear’s rash decision to banish Cordelia, and misjudge his daughters, combined with a façade of nobility and going psychologically mad, King Lear places events in motion that tragically seal his fate. Shakespeare demonstrates Lear’s …show more content…
Akin to his physical demise, Lear’s psychological destruction also progresses through the play. Lear psychologically degenerates at a remarkable pace, with the first notable mention of the idea of madness occurring in Act I. After banishing Cordelia, Kent asks Lear, “When Lear is mad, What wouldst thou do, old man?” (I.i.147). Kent recognizes that Lear is degenerating mentally, as his decision to banish Cordelia was so rash and dangerous. However, Lear’s psychological faults force him to overlook Kent’s warning and instead carry along his own path to destruction. Furthermore, the metaphor of blindness furthers Lear’s descent into tragedy. Lear cannot see clearly enough to make judgements on important issues and recognize his error before it is too late. When Kent begs Lear to stay and advise him on issues, he states, “See better, Lear, and let me still remain / The true blank of thine eye” (I.i.160). Lear’s quick dismissal of a loyal character embodies the rash, overly passionate psyche that made the original decision to banish Cordelia. Thus, Lear isolates himself and finds no end to the blindness he experiences until being thrust into a storm. King Lear reconnects with Cordelia late in the play, stating that “I think this lady / To be my child Cordelia” (IV.vii.68-69). Lear’s blindness passes and he can see clearly again, though it proves to be too little too late. In the end, Lear’s own psyche and passion contribute to his downfall, as he degenerates into madness and metaphorical blindness for much of the

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