The Importance Of Self-Knowledge In Shakespeare's King Lear

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Self-knowledge or “understanding of oneself, one 's character, abilities or, motives” is seen in Shakespeare’s King Lear (dictionary.com). Both King Lear and Gloucester place their trust in the wrong child, and it ultimately leads to their downfall. Both Cordelia who is the daughter of King Lear, and Kent who is a nobleman under Gloucester remain true to themselves and retain self-knowledge. Cordelia and Kent continuously speak the truth and fight to remain honest and loyal even though it bodes serious consequences for them and their companions.
Cordelia is a voice of reason to father King Lear, and her sisters Regan and Goniril. Her outbursts of truth lead to serious repercussions. Lear decides to pit his three daughters against each other,
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She looks for her father to make sure he is safe immediately upon returning to Lear’s territory. She asks the doctor to “seek, seek for him, and lest his ungoverned rage dissolve the life that means to lead it” (4.5.20-22). Regardless of how Lear treated her she is willing to go out of her way to make sure he is safe. Cordelia physically makes strides to restore order to Lear’s kingdom in his absence. She states, “O dear father, it is thy business that I go about” (4.5. 26). This is a reference to the bible, and how god’s disciples go about God or their father’s business. Cordelia is a loyal disciple of her father, and has taken up arms against her sisters to protect her father, and restore his kingdom. She is doing this for him because he physically can’t do it himself. Cordelia knows that her sisters being in power is detrimental to the kingdom, and she has the awareness to use her power as the wife of the King of …show more content…
He returns in disguise to check on Lear after his banishment (1.4.1-6). Like Cordelia, he refuses to abandon Lear in his time of need regardless of how badly Lear treated him in the past. Kent physically risks his life to defend Lear’s Kingdom as well. He attacks Oswald whom he has deemed a threat to Lear. Lear is blind to truly loyal individuals; however, Kent sacrifice his livelihood, his position, and his safety all in hopes of protecting Lear from his own foolishness. Kent is aware of what it truly means to be a loyal servant, and he holds a passionate belief in upholding honesty. Kent harbors anger in his words when he states “that such a slave as this should wear a sword, who wears no honesty” (2.2. 74-75). His protection of Lear does not cease throughout the play. When Gloucester arrives, Kent tells him that King Lear is here, but Kent begs Gloucester to “trouble him not, [because] his wits are gone” (3.6. 92).He also tries to reunite Lear and his daughter with the help of the Gentleman in order to help curb some of Lear’s suffering. Overall, Kent continues to try to protect his master, Lear, from aggravations even after Lear has gone insane.
Both Cordelia and Kent have the self-knowledge of what they hold above all else honesty and loyalty. This leads them to diligently use the truth and sacrifice their position and essentially their lives to remain true to themselves and protect their

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