King Lear Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What are some of the lessons learned in King Lear, by Lear, Gloucester, and Edgar? From Act I to the end of Act IV, what are some realizations that Lear, Gloucester, and Edgar make? Please generalize these lessons and name the Act and Scene where I can find them, if possible. Example: Even your closest loved ones are capable of deceiving you. Gloucester learns this at the time of his blinding, Act 3, Scene 7. Lear learns this in Act 2, Scene 4, when Regan and Goneril try to strip him of his leftover power and dignity. Edgar learns this when he discovers that Edmund was behind his character assassination (Act/Scene unknown). Emotions can negatively impact your behavior, making you turn your back on your biggest supporter or best friend. Lear learns this in the storm, when he realizes the error of his ways for banishing Kent and Cordelia. Gloucester learns this during his blinding, when he realized that Edmund's plot worked only because it played off his strong feelings of Edgar's supposed betrayal. Leading him to make a rash decision (death warrant). Appearances and social position affect the way others treat and view us. Lear learns this in Act 4, Scene 6, while raving about the hypocrisy of human beings. Edgar learns and applies this when his death warrant is issued and he decides to disguise himself as a Bedlam Begger; Act 2, Scene 3.

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Both Lear and Gloucester, who are in many way parallel characters deceived by evil children, learn to understand the difference between appearance and reality and to realize that power can blind one to the vulnerabilities and miseries all humans share. Both start the play as powerful figures. They are so used to being catered to that they don't recognize that the people around them are willing to lie to them, manipulate them, and use them for their own ends. They fail to perceive how vulnerable they are, that they too are merely frail human bodies when stripped of the trappings of society.

In Act I, scene iv, as the Fool points out, Lear acts as the real fool when he gives his kingdom over to his lying eldest daughters and rejects Cordelia, who will not flatter him. Lear values words over reality and trusts, wrongly, that he is loved for himself, not his position. By Act III, scene iv, stripped of his power, facing nature unprotected, he understands that he is no different than or...

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