Belief In "King Lear" William Shakespear

1465 words - 6 pages

Mistakes and undesirable consequences lead humans into redemption, and the rejuvenation of the soul, the cleansing of the spirit comes after a period of misery and pain. In his play King Lear, William Shakespeare creates a story of spiritual blindness, sin, and penalties. Each character including Albany, Edmund, Gloucester, and King Lear suffer from spiritual loss of sight and obtain the intuition to follow the cycle of sin, redemption, and regeneration. A spiritual veil covers the eyes of Albany, Edmund, Gloucester, and King Lear, but as the consequences of spiritual blindness occur, each character wants for salvation.The various tragedies of life that the characters are subjected to over ...view middle of the document...

iii. 242-243). Edmund's act of repentance only comforts his soul momentarily before surrendering to the grip of death. Because of Edmund's nature of sin, the "bastard" destroys many lives and salvation comes with a minimal amount of comfort.The plot underlying the stories of Albany and Edmund contradict because both characters repent at opposite times. Albany's salvation occurs early in the play while Edmund waits until death. A religious stereotype lies beneath the two plots of the stories; people of religion suffer less severe consequences due to early redemption. Edmund represents the continual sinner and does not repent until the final hour and pays the price of death; on the other hand, Albany repents early and suffers minor consequences. Despite the noble redemptions and "suffering" Edmund and Albany experience, nothing compares to the torment and salvation of Gloucester and Lear.Physically, Gloucester suffers the most from spiritual blindness. The event of losing physical sight forces Gloucester to use a sensory organ other than the eyes; thus, Gloucester realizes the consequences of earlier decisions. When a man offers assistance, the blind Gloucester responds, "I have no way, and therefore want no eyes/ I stumbled when I saw" (IV.i.19-20). At the moment of physical blindness, Gloucester yearns for forgiveness and wishes to repent; although, salvation for Gloucester does not occur until Edgar forgives the poor, blind fool. After deliverance, Gloucester submits to death without a heavy heart while King Lear suffers the consequences of late redemption. Unlike Gloucester, Lear never suffers physical blindness but rather the deterioration of the mind. As the play progresses, the mental state of the King weakens and Lear transforms into a child-like figure. Lear searches for comfort by asking for forgiveness from Cordelia. When he turns into a naïve character, Lear is "imagining that a certain measure of suffering has crucified its sinful egotism" (Oates 2). By imagining suffering pays for egotism, Lear expects forgiveness form all enemies. Unfortunately, Lear does not receive pardons from other characters, for "grace is bestowed on him [Lear]. But his antagonists never taste it" (Fraser 178). In Lear's plot, repentance only infects more evil and leaves Lear with a broken heart, a fragile mind, and a corrupt kingdom. Despite liberation from the weight of sin, redemption offers only a few seconds of comforting, for the darkness of wickedness overcomes the grace of salvation. Unfortunately, Lear dies with a heavy heart while Gloucester passes with a heart free of burden.Two facts determine the difference between the parallel stories of Lear and Gloucester; physical blindness and mental instability (Ribner 45). Both characters suffer from spiritual blindness, but Gloucester ultimately loses physical sight while Lear's mental state slowly deteriorates. Right upon the point of blindness, Gloucester realizes the consequences of poor...

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