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Lear's Quest for Identity
Transcript of Lear's Quest for Identity
The Loss of Identity
At first Lear is sure of himself, starts to show doubt after losing title
“Which of you shall we say doth love us most? That we our largest bounty may extend” (King Lear 1.1.52-53). When King Lear poses this question, he does so because of his confidence in the power he holds
Therefore, when Cordelia answers with “according to my bond, no more nor less,” it can be considered the first threat to Lear’s identity
Since Lear was so sure of his own identity, the fact that he believes his daughter does not acknowledge him, makes him enraged, leading to the banishment of Cordelia and Kent
The Quest for Identity
After Lear discards his identity he is lost, cannot decide who he is anymore
Can be classified as an "identity crisis," a stage in which a person no longer know who they are, usually occurring after periods of great change
As a result of this crisis, Lear starts to go mad, but continues to search for his identity
“Who is it that can tell me who I am?” (King Lear 1.4.226)
Dual meaning- wants to know who he is, yet no longer has confidence to answer himself
The Discovery Of Identity
In the end, manages to come to terms with who he is, accepts self
When Cordelia finds him, and Lear is allowed to apologize, he finds the opportunity to become a worthy father once more
In addition, Lear finds he is happy when he is with Cordelia, showing how a new identity has truly impacted him
“No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison. We two alone will sing like birds i’ the cage” (King Lear 5.3.9-10).
Through finding a new identity, Lear is also able to change his outlook on life, and comes to appreciate what he before took for granted
Lear's Quest: Introduction
Fundamental Question: "who am I?", issue of identity exists for most people
Identity can be defined as a person’s own vision of themselves, the way others view them and their individualistic characteristics
Lear himself struggles with identity in the great tragedy of King Lear, an aspect that the play uses to suffering and confusion of Lear
At the beginning, Lear believes his title of "King" to be his one defining characteristic, and bases his entire identity off this
However, when faced with changing circumstances, must discard this identity, briefly becoming mad as a consequence
In the end, Lear is able to regain his identity when he can once again be with his loyal daughter, Cordelia
Turning point for Lear is meeting with Edgar, and realizing how little he did as King
His realization that he neglected his poorer subjects, and was not quite the fair King he thought he was makes his identity metaphorically crumble
Is able to accept at this point that he is no longer King
The fool's answer of "Lear's shadow is significant, as Lear no longer has his title of King or an identity, in turn also losing confidence, signifying Lear has become but a shadow of his former self
Even with little motivation remaining, Lear continues to search for an identity, giving evidence to his growth as a character as well
Questions Regarding Identity
Why does Lear hang on to his title of "King" so desperately, even when it brings him misfortune?
King Lear's tragic flaw which ultimately led to his death, is usually stated to be "foolishness." If Lear had been wiser, would he have been able to avoid this entire "quest for identity," or would it have happened regardless?
Lear only regains his identity when he is able to apologize to Cordelia, and finds he is a different person then before. If Lear was never able to meet Cordelia again, do you believe he would ever be able to find his identity again?
King Lear finds that he is unsure of his identity, and struggles to find his true identity through much of the play. Have the struggles regarding identity changed since when the play was written, or are they largely the same?
Why is identity such an important aspect in every society and age? What is it that makes people want to discover their "true identity?"
Conclusion to Lear's Quest
King Lear starts with a one dimensional identity, believing King to be his one defining characteristic
Consequently, when this identity is damaged by his daughters and own realization, Lear is left without a clear identity and experiences madness, but when Lear finds Cordelia he is able to find his true identity, and in turn, happiness
Shakespeare's portrayal of a man without an identity are one of the reasons for the play's great success
Overall, Shakespeare designs Lear as a character that forces readers to really ask their selves, to answer honestly, the fundamental question of “who am I?”
"Identity of I"
Identity is not what I promise others
Identity is what I do when I am alone
Identity is what I think of others
Knowing all the hatred they've shown
Identity is what every wound reminds me
Identity is what I learn and what I pass by
Identity is what I see in the mirror
After giving my best try
Identity is what I make out of my given chance
Identity is what I accept and what I deny
No one else has control over me
Life is about me, and what I identify
by Abhiraj Rajadhyaksha