In the play King Lear, Lear reaches old age without achieving any wisdom. This statement is very true, many evidences can be found throughout the acts. For example: Lear is ignorant of the truth, he only hears what he wants to hear and he makes several rash decisions that leads to his downfall. Although Lear achieved very little wisdom over his lifetime, he did learn allot about humility, which is defined as humbleness or meekness. Different aspects of humility was taught to Lear by the different actions of each of his three daughters Goneril, Regan, and Cordilia. Throughout this essay, each of Lear’s daughters actions will be carefully examined, in the form of oldest to youngest. In order to show in detail, the different parts the three daughters had in teaching King Lear about humility.
Goneril, the eldest daughter of Lear. She only loved Lear for what he had, although it showed otherwise in act I, scene 1 of the play.
The words that Goneril told Lear were as follows: “Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter, dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty, beyond what can be valued, rich or rare, no less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor; As much as child e’er loved, or father found; A love that makes breath poor and speech unable. Beyond all manner of so much I love you.”
Throughout the rest of the play Goneril, turns back on her words, she first exiles Lear out of his former castle, and then she plots with Regan to kill him. She is a heartless and cruel person, although Lear’s lack of humility did have some effect on his own faith. From Goneril’s actions Lear learns that not everyone is trustworthy, people do turn on their own words and he should believe in the truth, not some lie that was said to fill his own huge ego.
Regan, Lear’s second daughter betrayed Lear just like her older sister Goneril. She also lied to Lear about her love for him, because she knew that the better lie will get the larger piece of the kingdom. She also did not want Lear to stay with her, but out of pity she did offer Lear a place to stay. But Lear refused, because he had to have a great big army with him to fill his ego, and cytologically Lear needed to still live like a king, even though physically he was no longer a king. From Regan, Lear learned that at times humbleness and humility can be advantageous in some situations, and Lear also learns that not to take words literally to heart. He also learned that she is like Goneril evil and greedy, this leads to both of the their deaths. Goneril and Regan was the main reason that forced Lear to go insane, this insanity was good for Lear. Because he drastically changes in character and learns about the main values of humility.
Cordilia the youngest of Lear’s three daughters, she unlike the other two sisters tells her true feeling to Lear.She was not rewarded for her honesty, instead she was banished from the kingdom and got nothing from Lear. Cordilia’s words to Lear are as follows: “You have begot me , bred me, loved me. In return those duties back as are right fit, obey you, love you, and most honor you. Why have my sisters husbands if they say they love you all?Haply, when I shall wed, that lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry half my love with him, half my care and duty. Sure I shall never marry like my sisters, to love my father all.”
Shakespeare William, King Lear (New York: Bantam Books, 1988) p. 5. Ibid, p6.