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Evil's Influence in King Lear Essay


The presence of good is influenced by evil due to the cunning schemes in which the evil plots. Lears rash nature leads to the banishing of those who genuinely care about him. As well as, he is blinded by his daughters deceitful ways, by fooling him into thinking they love him, but really they just want their inheritance. Also, Gloucster shows good being influenced by the presence of evil because Edmund, being the evil one, influenced Gloucster into believing Edgar is plotting his death. The presence of evil is more powerful in King Lear, because Lear and Gloucster have trouble seeing behind the mask in which the evil wears.

Lears banishes those who care about him due to his rash nature. Both Goneril and Regan know that they had to lie in order to receive a share of the kingdom. The two decide to take initiative before they could be affected. Cordelia tells her sister that the lies and deceit will eventually unfold as time goes on, Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides, who covers faults at last with shame derides. (I.I.325-327) Cordelia lets her sisters know that she is aware of their deceitful ways. It is this test of love which causes Lear to throw out his most beloved daughter Cordelia. When asked how much she loves her father, Cordelia says that she loves him according to her bond no more, no less. This response angers Lear and causes him to disown his Cordelia for her refusal to comply, Let it be so. Thy truth then be thy dower. For by the sacred radiance of the sun, the mysteries of Hectate and the night, by all the operation of the orbs From whom we do exist, and cease to be; Here I disclaim all my paternal care, Propinquity and property of blood, And as a stranger to my heart and me Hold thee, from this, for ever. (I.I.120-133) Lear leaves Cordelia with no ties between the two. Kent believes that Lear is wrong and openly tells him so. He says in a straightforward manner that he is both mad and an old man, he believes that Lears decision is unreasonable. Lear then banishes Kent for his outrageous behavior, Hear me, Recreant! On thine allegiance hear me. That thou hast sought to make us break our vows, which we durst never yet, and with strained pride to come betwixt our sentence and our power, which nor nature nor our place can bear... (I.I.120-133) because of this another loyal person who cares about Lear is banished from his kingdom. This proves that evil is more powerful then good because Lear banishes those who respect and care for him, but keep those who are deceitful.

King Lear is blinded by his daughters deceit, but those who are loyal to him are aware of it and refuse to mention names because they are afraid to be punished. The fool makes fun of Lear for handing over the power of the throne to his daughters, Why after I have cut the egg I th middle and eat up the meat the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy (I.I.162-169) the Fool can speak the truth without being punished because nobody takes him seriously. Goneril, as Regan does, believes that they must be careful in their actions or they might be affected by their father too. Goneril decides that it would be a smart idea to do something soon before Lear can act against them, or perhaps discover their true nature, We must do something and I th heat, (I.I.314) Goneril and Regan have a plot which must take place soon before Lear becomes aware of their deceitful ways. After receiving her share of the inheritance, Regan begins to treat her father as a charity case. She tells him that hes getting old and unusable and that he should just surrender his throne completely to his daughters and let them do the rest. By doing this it makes herself seem ungrateful, and also shows that she doesnt love him as much as she claims to, O sir, you are old. Nature in you stands on the very verge of his confine. You should be ruled and led (II.IV.165-171) this is a sign to Lear that his daughters are deceitful but he turns a blind eye to it. Goneril and Regans cunning ways prevent Lear from seeing the evil which hides with in them.

Gloucster is influenced by Edmund to think that Edgar is planning to kill him. Edmund is planning the downfall of his father, and is only interested in his personal gain, at any cost. Edmund is immersed in his greed for others possessions; he will step on whomever he needs to in order to reach his goal. Edmund frames Edgar by cutting himself, Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion of my more endeavor (II.II.36-37) Edmund cuts him self to make it look as if he was attacked by the villain which is Edgar, he did this to influence his father that Edgar is evil and up to no good. Edmund forges a letter plotting to kill Gloucster and pretends it is written by Edgar. Gloucster asked Edmund what is in his hand, The quality of nothing hath not such need to hide itself (I.II.34) Gloucster is lead on to think that Edgar is plotting his death. During the confrontation between Edmund and Edgar, Edmund states that Gloucster is displeased with Edgar and is looking for him. Edmund tells Edgar a lie to convince him to go into hiding. This goes with the theme of blindness where Edgar is blind to Edmunds lie, yet it is not only Edgar, but also Gloucster, who is blind to Edmunds plot to take his fathers life, I have told you what I have seen and heard, but faintly, nothing like the image and horror of it (I.II.183) Edmunds plot to kill his father and have Edgar take the blame for it is cunning. This is a prime example of good being influenced by the presence of evil, because it shows Edmund convincing Gloucster that Edgar is plotting his death when really it is Edmund.

The opposed presence and influence of evil has on good is due to Lears rash nature, also the banishing of those who genuinely care about him. Lear is blinded by his daughters deceitful ways, they fool him into thinking they love him, but really they just want their inheritance. The secondary plot with Gloucster shows good being influenced by the presence of evil, because Edmund being the evil one influenced Gloucster into believing Edgar is plotting his death.

Work Cited


- Shakespear, William King Lear, City: New York, Publisher: Washington Square Press New Foldger, Year: 1993

King Lear Essay

Topic: Shakespear opposes the presence and influence of evil not by any denial of evil, but by the presence of good. Which one is more powerful? Explain, making specific reference to at least two characters.

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