King Lear: Justice And Mercy

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Lesson 9: Justice/Mercy Argumentative Essay Mercy is a part of every society from the beginning of time. Mercy is compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power. In William Shakespeare’s King Lear, Lear realizes the importance of mercy in civilization through his daughter Cordelia. Compassion and forgiveness are the two key components to mercy, which in most cases works out better than justice does. Sometimes justice is not the right option as it could end up being the wrong decision to do in that situation. Mercy is more important than justice because there needs to be compassion, forgiveness outweighs retributive justice and justice is imperfect. Compassionate individuals are a huge part of a society. If not for compassion there would be no sympathy and justice would take over. In King Lear’s Act I, Lear disowns and banishes his youngest daughter, Cordelia, from the kingdom because she failed to partake in Lear’s childish game of telling him how much she loves him. Lear: “Let it be so, thy truth then be thy dower!” (I.i 110). Cordelia, being a compassionate person, finds it in her heart to be present when Lear needs her most, Cordelia: “O my dear father! Restoration hang
thy medicine on my lips; and let this kiss
repair those violent harms that my two sisters
have in thy reverence made!” (IV.vii 25-29) This quotation proves what kind of person Cordelia is, in that her compassion and ability to forgive enabled her to look past her father’s unfair and unjust treatment. At the time of her father’s sickness, Cordelia chose to show compassion and forgiveness instead of retributive justice. The saying ‘forgive and forget’ is often pushed aside because people forget its true meaning. In King Lear forgiveness is a major theme. Cordelia chooses to forgive her father even after he disowned and banished

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