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Home » , » Discuss the theme of self-knowledge in King Lear
King Lear is a play which depicts the misfortunes resulting from the filial ingratitude shown to Lear by his two eldest daughters. The play not only depicts the suffering but also the wholesome effect. produced by this suffering on his character. The Lear who dies at the end of the play is a different man from the Lear whom we met in the opening scene. In other words, there is a development in his character. At the beginning Lear is a selfish, vain, egoistical, haughty, and dictatorial King. Towards the end of Act-lV and then again in Act-V we find that he has become gentle, sympathetic and humble. At the end, he emerges as a man from a King who wins all our sympathy and affection. Now let us try to discuss the theme of self-knowledge in King Lear.

At the beginning of the play, we find that Lear, the King of Britain, has decided to divide his kingdom among his three daughters in accordance with the degree of love which his daughters feel for him. The two of his daughters receive the entire kingdom which is equally divided between them while the youngest daughter is totally deprived of her share because she has failed to gratify her father's venity. It is decided that Lear will stay with his two elder daughters- Goneril and Regan tum by turn for one month at a time keeping a hundred Knights with him. However, Goneril complains to her father that his Knights have been indulging in rowdy and undisciplined behavior. Lear is surprised by her attitude. He would not like to say any longer with Goneril. So he wants to go to his other daughter Regan. But Regan is the carbon copy of Goneril. Being disgusted with Regan, Lear comes out of her Palace in a mood of fury. But he does not know where he will go.

Neither Regan nor Goneril makes any effort to stop their father  from going out into the storm. So. Lear rushes out into the dark and stormy night in a careless mood. The storm is blowing with its full force. Lear calls upon the winds to blow with all their fury. Lear's soul is expressed when he says. "I am a man more sinned against  sinning." The storm scene has dramatic significance to the theme of Self-Knowledge. It also presents the utter helplessness of human being on this earth and makes Lear feel the condition of the lower  people. Once upon a time, Lear was a king. He did not know what  suffering or sorrow was. As a king he used to lead a happy and comfortable life. But now he is powerless and shelterless in the midst of rough weather. Once he was surrendered by friends and courtiers. But now at this moment he is alone under the vast sky without any protection.

Lear realizes the truth that man is very trivial in this vast world. He is also moved by love and sympathy towards mankind.Seeing  the miserable condition of edgar disguised as Bedlam-Beggar,Lear realizes the suffering and wretched  condition of the now he is realizing the condition of the poor. Except the storm scene we nowhere find Lear such sympathetic towards human being rather he was haughty and proud. Thus the storm makes psychological change in Lear.

Thus the remarkable development a change from ignorance to knowledge has taken place in this scene in the case of Lear. Lear grows wiser and kinder than he had been in the beginning. It is in this scene that Lear begins to feel a kind of kindness and pity for the poor. In Scene-I of Act-I, Lear was every inch a king - but in this scene he tears off his kingly dress. The storm in Lear's mind evokes sympathy for the poor because he himself experiences the unkindest cut of Nature that the poor regularly have the feel of. The play shows the progress of a 'King becoming a 'man' after losing everything.In fact, it may be called Lear's journey into self. Here the theme of self knowledge is developed.


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