Where is the love? We initially witnessed lack of family commitment in Richard II, when he banished his own cousin, Bolingbroke. Now, King Lear has problems with his daughters. It’s amazing some times to see in Shakespeare’s plays that people would choose power over family, but this seems to be a common theme.
The conflict between King Lear and his daughters is interesting to me because it is different from what we are normally used to seeing, from the plays we read from Shakespeare this semester. We are usually accustom to the king embracing their role, as well as using their power in ways to benefit their own needs. KIng Lear has a unique situation where he wants to scale back his rule and give most of the responsibilities to his daughters. When he realizes that his own daughters betray him, it leaves the king in a feeling of loneliness and hate. King Lear says, “Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude! Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand for lifting food to ‘t? But I will punish home” (3.4.15-17). These are his daughters that he raised, fed, and took care of. I can’t help but feel somewhat sympathetic towards him, but it also makes me slightly change my overall perspective on a king’s rule. There are the kings we read about that abused their power – and then King Lear. Before reading this play, I felt the kings took full advantage of their throne. Now, there’s the argument that this is exactly why a king’s rule should maximize usage of their power. The moment King Lear lets his guard down, his own family takes full advantage. It leaves me thinking that maybe a kings job is to be power hungry. If not, there’s always the risk of someone threatening to take rule.
King Lear learns to see things from a commoner’s perspective. King Lear says, “Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you, that bide the pelting of the pitiless storm, how shall your houseless heads and unfed sides, your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you from seasons such as these?” (3.4.29-34). This is interesting, as Lear being stripped of rule, feels sympathy towards the poor. He begins to understand the other side of living he never gave a chance to see as king. King Henry first existed amongst the commoners and then became into power. Due to this order of events, we had a chance to see how quickly Bolingbroke forgot about his friends (such as Falstaff). The order of these two events both have significance. Lear feels sympathy because he started from the top, and then lost everything. Through this experience, King Lear finds out how superficial his daughters are; but he also learns some morals along the way.
King Lear losing his power helped me to look at the power of the king from a different perspective. It also helped the King look at himself differently as well. I enjoyed being able to see a very different scenario then what we have been reading in our Shakespeare class. It provided me to look at situations differently, and allowed me to be more open-minded towards what a kings power should be.