The Theme of Sin and Punishment in "King Lear" by Shakespeare

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It has been told that someone who has sinned on Earth intentionally or unintentionally should be sent to hell. The theory of hell is that one who sins gravely against god is to be sent to hell to forever and suffer eternal pain. If we do believe in hell, it creates a conflict between love and justice and it concludes to that god execute eternal punishment for temporary sins.

In the play of king Lear, the author Shakespeare gives us an emotional ride of tragic events and portrays characters who goes through tremendous amount of suffering and grief for their actions on earth. Lear himself has suffered a substantial amount of pain on earth to not be sent to hell but rather purgatory. Gates of hell should be closed for characters in the play such as Lear and Edmund because they suffered an incredible amount of pain on earth. They already have paid fair prices for their sins, what could be worse than death ? Does one really deserve eternal punishment in hell for the sins one commits during their short life span? Striving to make punishments fit their crimes would be defined, such as sending them to purgatory.

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As a matter of fact in king Lear, characters like Lear , Edmund , Regan, Goneril , Regan shows their greed and lust for gaining power. Due to their action they are ones to blame for what they suffer. If the gates of hell are remained it would only add on top of their suffering. After reading the story the readers can get an insight on Edmund on his greedy, wicked and devious character and are aware of all the awful deeds he has done. He wasn’t just born evil, but rather made evil by the society. All bastards are grown up with a neglection. Edmund is mad that he cant have what he want, which is to inherit Gloucester’s land. He is mad that his brother Edgar is receiving all of the inheritance just because he’s the legitimate son. Why does Edmund have to be treated different and harshly ?, and pay for his Gloucester's mistakes.

At the end of day he’s his still Gloucesters blood son, he totally deserves to inherit at least something. His father has always mocked Edmund and made fun of him for being a bastard. How would you feel if your father greeted you a bastard every time. Here’s an example on how harshly Gloucester treated his son Though this knave came something saucily into the world before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair, there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged ( Shakespeare 1.1.21-25). This shows us how poorly Gloucester treated his son . Edmund attains the power he desires after misleading his father and banishing his brother. He’s able achieve this by betraying and and being manipulative. When his brother Edgar stabs him and he’s slowly bleeding to death, Edmund wish to atone for all his sins and do some good to people around him in his dying moments. An example of this would be when he states I pant for life. Some good I mean to do, despite of mine own nature. Quickly send (Be brief in’t) to the castle.

Is on the life of Lear and Cordelia (5.3.243-6). This quote shows us that he says these out of guilt for the sins he committed by trying to Lear and Cornelia’s lives, and it also shows us that he wants to do some good deeds before he dies. Edmund wasn’t villainous but people treated in such a way that he becomes the way he is trying to get what he rightfully deserves. There’s been records that bastard have been treated horribly in past. Edmund suffered his fate and paid a fair price of living hell on earth. Hence the gates of hell should be closed for Edmund he should rather sent to purgatory for his crimes.

Above all in king Lear , Lear the protagonist has suffered the worst fate out of everyone and went through a living hell on earth. In the beginning of the play in King Lear, Lear decides to divide his kingdom to his daughters right now rather than creating problems later. The process Lear chooses to do so, is rather a very wrong way to handle such a matter. He gives away the kingdom based on whichever daughter flatters him the most, will receive the portion of the kingdom. Regan and Goneril succeeds to flatter him with extravagant words. Lear’s youngest daughter Cordelia is disowned Lear for not being able flatter him. Later novel we see how inhumanly Regan and Goneril treats their old and kind father but rather betrays him. Cordelia is the true loving daughter of Lear. It’s notable that Lear is responsible for a lot sins. He’s foolish, gullible and reckless and has big ego. Lear is foolish enough to trust his daughter’s with the kingdom and power, later on they deceive him my taking all his powers, strips him of his kingship, takes all his knights and is thrown away in the storm by the very daughter that he thought loved him. Lear even states I am a man more sinned against than sinning (3.2.59-60).

One of the worst burdens for parent is when their child betrays their trust and makes them an outcast. He had to go go through all that. Throwing an old man away in the storm without any resources was truly harsh of Goneril and Regan specially during older times it was harder. After reading King Lear, the story really touched emotionally and made the horrible experiences Lear faces while being alive. By the time lear says Let the great gods, That keep this dreadful pother o'er our heads,Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,That hast within thee undivulged crimes,Unwhipp'd of justice: hide thee, thou bloody hand; Thou perjured, and thou similar man of virtue[...],Rive your concealing continents, and cry ,These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man More sinn'd against than sinning. (3.2.49-60) he doesn't have any more power left over his kingdom ,he bare has any friends left, he’s in the middle of a storm out in the grasslands, crying to god for justice for his suffering. His pain is so great that he can't feel anything physically, like the storm. Lear is saying that he has sinned but nothing compared to what his daughters has done. Regan and Goneril has been ungrateful to their father after he gave them everything , this is a burdening feeling for Lear.

Arguably it might be hard for one to feel sympathy for Lear because he’s a difficult character to like. As the goes on we observe the consequences of the "sins" he has committed, but we also witness the brutal punishments he receives on earth for his irresponsibility. What Lear faces is almost unimaginable.He loses his kinship, turns insane , loses his dear friends Kent and Gloucester, he’s betrayed by his daughters and then later all his daughters die. All these have taking places at once has been painful enough for lear.

But especially Cordelia’s death hurt him the most because she came back to help her father even being banished. She was truly loyal to Lear unlike the other daughters. To see his favourite daughter die in front of him was the last painful thing he had to bear before dying. After facing all these event it must have been painful for Lear and thus dies of a heart attack right away. He has lived a living hell on earth and paid a fair price for his sins. Lear states "Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life, and thou no breath at all?" (5.3.370-371). What he’s saying is that why is rats, horses and dogs are alive but not Cordelia. We can see how tragic his life has been. Lear started at the top and has lost merely everything by the end of the story including his sanity.

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