Is King Lear a Good Ruler

1581 Words7 Pages
Is King Lear a Good Ruler? During the early 17th century, a king was a ruler who embodied a strong, united, and powerful government. Even more than that, a king was considered to be a divine being, God’s representative on earth. A king was role model to his subjects. A king makes personal sacrifices for the sake of his kingdom. Foresight, justness, and compassion are important qualities for a king. These facets aren’t only beneficial for a king, but for any ruler for that matter. In Shakespeare’s work, King Lear, he portrays the end of the reign of an aging British monarch in the early 17th century known as King Lear. In Shakespeare’s work, there is strong evidence of him lacking in many of these qualities of a good ruler, and analyzing this evidence will help us assess how good of a ruler King Lear really was, and why Shakespeare chose to portray him the way he did. In the first Act of the play, King Lear seems the proper absolute ruler. He has, after all, held together the country successfully for many years. He evokes grandeur and authority, representing God and the reigning patriarchy of kingship, as demonstrated by the loyalty of his inferiors to him. Evidence of this can be seen in Kent’s devotion to him as he says, “Royal Lear, Whom I have ever honored as my king, loved as my father, as my master followed, as my great patron thought on in my prayers” (Pg.17, Lines 156-159). He maintains this devotion to him despite risking the king’s wrath, as he confronts him here just after Cordelia had just failed to declare the love he thought she had for him. Gloucester’s loyalty to the king is apparent later on in Act III when he says, “We must incline to the King. I will look him and privily relieve him” (Pg. 135, Lines 13-14). Here Gloucester has just realized that Lear’s daughters intend to betray their father, and he decides to help the king despite of the
Open Document