The Shakespearean novel “King Lear” dates back to the 1600s. In the ancient times the King had semi-divine powers .This privilege was known as ‘The Kings of Divine Rights’. Although human, the King could possess spiritual powers such as love, imagination and intellect. In the tragedy King Lear, the protagonist Lear gains spiritual understanding, but is deprived of materialistic necessities and a stable sense of mind. King Lear achieves spiritual insight by deriving non-materialistic qualities such as compassion, humility and patience.
As a King,Lear’s overwhelming pride, ear for flattery and self-viewdetach him from the spiritual realm. Lear’s view point is revealed as a “dragon” when his wrath is subject to his loyal servantKent and “favourite” daughterCordelia. As a result of his“hideous rashness”, Lear’s “power bow[s] to flattery” spoken by his “two empty hearted daughters”[Goneril and Regan] . They profess their love in a hyperbolic manner; however, Cordelia speaks of genuine love, one which abides to silence. Ironically, Lear in response states that Cordelia’s “plain” answer is rootedfrom her “pride”. This ironic statement reinforces the theme of blindness which causes Lear to publically disclaim Cordelia from all “propinquity and property of blood” and banish Kent from his Kingdom.All these qualities cause Lear to glide away from spiritual truth.
King Lear’s life was based primarily on materialistic necessities. This earned him qualities derived from the materialistic world in which he lived in.He was indeed the King of Britaina man with a royal lineage . Not only, did the title as “King” serve as a merit, but, materialistic assets gained from being a King graduallybecame necessities. With a “100 Knights”, “horses”, “servants” revenues and “all the additions to King[ship]”.One would say that Lear’s materialistic world formed the bulk of his thoughts , contributing, to the disallowance of spiritual understanding.
When Lear “prescribes his power” to his two malicious daughters Goneril and Regan, he is made a “slave” to the “fretful elements of nature”; this event instigates the need for spiritual understanding. Lear in leaving his palace, commutes, to Gonriel’s house.Sheconstantly “checks” him like a “babe” with flattery.Eventually, Goneril admits her annoyance, to Lear’s “insolent routine” and unnecessary” quarrels”.This admission urges him to flee to Regan’s whereabouts. Regan revealsher allegiance, to her sister and rejects Lear’s company. Regan and Goneril coincide to abandon Lear in a storm. Allowing him to become a “comrade with owls and wolves ajur[ing] all roofs”. Waging against the enmity o’ the air, he confesses that he is indeed a “poor, infirm, wretched old man”. Lear’s condition emphasises the need for Justice to be served and the theme of grief which calls for the need of spiritual understanding.
By acquiring qualities such as humility, patience, and compassion; Lear gains spiritual insight . Lear’s materialistic point of view disintegrates as he endures the storm. He shows a compassionate side towards the fool, his assistance. In realization that the “art “ of his “necessities” are now strange, he considers , “vile things” as precious assets .This understanding compels him to have “one part” of his “heart” as an offering to the fool.This demonstrates Lear’s compassionate nature. On the verge of “losing his wits”,Lear attains the spiritual quality patience. Even in the storm Lear’s mind is preoccupied with his two “pernicious daughters”.” Although, his “wits slowly begin to turn” ,he tries, his best to be a “matter of all patience . This he accomplishes. Lear’s egocentric behaviour is overshadowed by his act of humility. He illustrates this humble trait when empathetically tears “off” his “lendings” realizing that man is no more than a” poor naked two legged forked animal”. This view is affirmed when he witnesses a poor beldam beggar disguised as his godson.In these three dynamic ways Lear’s journey in achieving spiritual understanding is attained.