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Divine justice in shakespeares king lear essay

There is a prominent emphasis on the question of whether there is moral righteousness in the world which would demand that every crime committed must have an equally appropriate punishment.

However, is justice served when some characters crimes and punishments are in equilibrium, while other characters punishments far surpass their crimes?

Justice can be served by the characters being given fair punishments, however, ultimately justice in King Lear is served the best when the punishment surpasses the crime because the knowledge and compassion that the character gains has an everlasting effect on their life and ultimately makes them a better person.

For characters such as Edmund, Cornwall, Regan and Goneril it can be accepted that justice has been served because their punishments completely coincide with their crime. Edmund dies after battling his disguised brother and after all the grief that he causes, his death is highly anticipated.

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Edmund dies exactly how many feel he should; he inflicted pain on others and his death can be seen as an appropriate punishment. Their spiteful ways begin when they lie about their love for their father so that they will inherit more land but when Lear needs them most they banish him from their home.

  1. Just as they had strived to usurp the power of their father, it is appropriate that they die competing over the affection of one man. The scope of Edmund s plans expands as he too becomes romantically entangled between Goneril and Regan.
  2. This sort of justice cannot be given by a court or social order. Edgar, the legitimate, never felt the slights visited upon Edmund.
  3. The sins committed against King Lear are a result of his personal faults of rashness, blindness, and foolishness. As King Lear is a brutal play, filled with human cruelty and many awful disasters, the play's terrible events raise an obvious question for the characters, namely whether there is any possibility of justice in the world.

Goneril poisons Regan out of jealousy and then Goneril stabs herself. Ultimately, all of these characters receive a punishment that is in line with their crime but they do not learn anything from their mistakes and therefore are unable to become better people.

  • Lear is initially portrayed as being an egotistical ruler, relying on protestations of love from his daughters to apportion his kingdom;
  • Lear would never realize the wrongs he committed as King if he had not experienced his major downfall from the very top of society, as a King, to the very bottom, as a homeless man.

Lear is introduced into the play as being a selfish man who values public displays of affection over honesty and he irrationally banishes Cordelia and Kent. As a result of his actions, Lear is severely punished by being banished from his home, experiencing madness and losing everyone that he loves.

Justice in King Lear – how to construct an answer…

Lear not only endures severe punishments while alive, but his death can be seen as his final punishment. Gloucester is another example of a man whose greatest crime is favouring his non bastard son, Edgar.

He is punished for this crime through the gouging out of his eyes.

  • Kingship In "King Lear" Essay 1548 words - 6 pages , revealing that he has the goodness and strength to defeat evil;
  • The natural order of the world is eventually re-established from fair to good by the end of King Lear.

However even though in these situations the punishments were unfair the characters were forced to endure them to become better people and to make the natural order of the world better.

Justice is not always about doing the fair thing it is also about moral righteousness which is why justice is ultimately served in King Lear.

Divine Justice In Shakespeare

Most characters in this play excluding Cornwall, Goneril and Regan in some way become better people by suffering through their punishments. Edmund was remorseful on his death bed and even tried to save Cordelia which is proof that after being a witness to the chaos that unfolded he realizes his mistakes and tries to fix them.

Lear and Gloucester, on the other hand, suffer much more than other characters and even though their punishment surpasses their crime, justice is still served because they become moral and just people.

Divine Justice In "King Lear" Essay

Lear would never realize the wrongs he committed as King if he had not experienced his major downfall from the very top of society, as a King, to the very bottom, as a homeless man. These characters suffer through their punishments and even though they eventually die they die a better person unlike Cornwall, Goneril and Regan. These three characters did not learn anything from their mistakes because their punishment was death.

Although this is the greatest punishment of all, they did not have to work through their mistakes and therefore did not repent nor learn a single thing.

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The natural order of the world is eventually re-established from fair to good by the end of King Lear. This is done through the suffering and punishment that some of the characters endure. Although some characters have to endure more suffering than others, justice is ultimately served by all and for some the restoring of justice brings on a more significant impact on their lives.

In conclusion, justice did prevail in the end and through the service of justice some characters are able to die as good and insightful people.

  • Despite its age, King Lear is nevertheless a powerful tragedy, which uses many theatrical effects to portray the essence of what it means to be human;
  • Shakespeare hasdeveloped a tragedy that allows us to see man's decent intochaos;
  • If Goneril and Regan believe that flattery is their only way to please Lear, than there is no real love shared between them;
  • Lear s onset of madness results from his loss of power to his daughters;
  • Since Lear's characteristics are authoritarian, arrogant and self-centred, Shakespeare displays to the audience what it is like to be human.

Work Citied Shakespeare, William.