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Justice - King Lear

Will Black, Ryan Barwell, Nevin Ameli and Stephen Traynor.
by

William Black

on 15 November 2012

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Transcript of Justice - King Lear

The theme of justice in King Lear is introduced at the very beginning of the play. Lear himself seems to commit the first act of injustice when he hastily banishes his daughter Cordelia and Kent. While the characters in King Lear commit many acts of injustice against each other, an unforgiving divine justice exists which ultimately punishes each of the characters for any immoral acts committed during the play. Poetic Justice
in King Lear -In the tragedy of King Lear written by William Shakespeare, Poetic Justice is served between Gloucester, Edmund and Edgar. As they’re fates are always justified from either the reward of virtuous acts, or the punishment of their wrong doings. Gloucesters mistreatment toward Edmund by calling him a bastard son is later punished as his actions cause Edmund to plot against his own family. Point #1
"Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land.
Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund
As to the legitimate. Fine word—“legitimate”!
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper.
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!"
- Edmund Edgar's loyalty to his father and the king is rewarded in the final act when Albany pronounces that Edgar will be the new king. “to him our absolute power;[To Edgar and Kent] you to your rights; with boot and such addition to your honors have more than merited. All friends shall taste the wages of their virtue”
- Albany Point # 2 Point #3 By Ryan, Will, Steve, and Nevin In the present time not many people look to gods to be just. We have incorporated our own justice system and every law is considered fair. When you are not trialed by our law sometimes things happen coincidentally to those who do wrong and that is what we presume to be divine justice or as most people call it karma. At the plays finishing scene, Shakespeare left the audience puzzled. Even though throughout the play the gods have shown justice to those who deserve it the reasoning behind Cordelia’s death remains a mystery showing that in all circumstances the gods cannot be fair and don't always have a reason to punish someone. Divine Justice in
King Lear Throughout the play the characters of the book “King Lear” look upon the gods to be just and to take revenge on those people who they think deserve it. Gods are often thought unfair from people who have to suffer their punishment because they can be very unmerciful until the person realizes what they have done and pays the price.
Regan and Goneril show that they deserve to face the divine justice of the gods more than anyone else. After they are given all the power by the King they start by simply avoiding him and then end up trying to make his life a living hell. They treat him terribly; they kick him out of their house and sent him into the horrific storm. Later the corruption of the two sisters turns into a battle for Edmund’s love. This spins way out of control and finally the gods show how just they can be, one dyes from murder and the other commits suicide from depression of killing the other. The quote,

“O shes dead!” Gentleman. “Who dead? Speak, man.” Albany. “Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister by her poison; she hath confess’d it” Gentleman (5.3.2)




Edmund and Edgar experience divine justice at first had within the play. The Christian bible speaks of multiple battles in which good must attempt to defeat evil and knowing this, trial by combat plays an important role in divine justice during the play King Lear. The duel in the last act between the two brothers symbolizes the ongoing battle between good and evil and that if you are pure of heart, good will always triumph over evil.

“My name is Edgar, and thy father’s son. The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices make instruments to plague us. The dark and vicious place where thee he got cost him his eyes.” Edgar (5.3.4).
The king himself makes multiple mistakes within the story, the most important one being the misjudgment of his diabolical daughters and casting away the one true daughter that loved and cared for him the most. When he calls upon the gods to curse Goneril and Regan for their mistreatment of him the gods retaliate by sending him into the most crucial storm they can conjure up.
“O Heavens! If you do love old men, if your sweet sway show obedience, if you yourselves old, make it your cause. Send down, and take my part!” Lear (2.4.26). conclusion point 3 point 2 point 1 By: Ryan Barwell By: Will Black My name is Edgar, and thy father's son.
The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to plague us.
The dark and vicious place where thee he got
Cost him his eyes. -Edgar Unjust Actions In King
Lear By: Nevin Ameli In King Lear there are many instances where someone is trying to pass justice but they take it too far. For example when Cornwall takes out Gloucester’s eyes as a punishment for betraying him to the king, he takes it too far and is more unjust with his punishment than he is just. The punishment was not equal to the offense committed. A more just punishment would have been to simply put Gloucester in jail, or maybe even to just kill him instead of blinding him and leaving him to die slowly. Unlike in the time of King Lear, today in Canada we have punishments that are much more equal to the crimes committed. In King Lear there a few instances where characters try and get "even" with other characters but things escalate to where it is no longer a just action, it is simply revenge. One of the more extreme versions of this is when Goneril kills her sister Regan for trying to marry Edmund. This is not a very just action. The situation between them escalated exponentially and it was quickly turned into a very unjust situation. Regan did not deserve death because her "crime" was not equal to her punishment. In Canadian society we have gotten rid of the death penalty all together and we realize that it was not an effective punishment. If this had taken place in our society it would not have escalated to this degree so quickly. Edgar's wisdom and his will to maintain justice can be used to explain why both Edmund and Gloucester each deserved their tragic fate. Another large moment of injustice happens when Lear banishes his daughter Cordelia because he feels that she doesn't love him enough. Even as Lear hastily banishes her from the kingdom, he also banishes Kent who was simply trying to stand up for Cordelia and for what he thought was right. Neither of them had done anything wrong except say the wrong thing to Lear, then he blew everything out of proportion. The punishment of banishment and the loss of inheritance was not nearly equal to Cordelia's supposed "crimes" against Lear. Kent was only trying to stand up for what was right and not let Lear do something he might regret. Now today in Canada we have rights that are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In today society people are allowed to speak their mind and not be punished for it. Cordelia wouldn't have been banished if it took place in our time period. In conclusion, the Tragedy of King Lear displays Poetic Justice because often in the play good virtue is rewarded and vice is punished. This is can be shown through the fate of Gloucester, Edmund and Edgar The Poetic justice used in King Lear can be related to modern day justice because in King Lear, the punishments for committing crimes are usually unfair and extremely harsh. Many believe this to be true in modern day justice because when criminals are caught by the authorities in our society they are also severely punished. The reason for this is because it is believed that harsh punishments are more likely to reform individuals. This relates to the part in the play when Gloucester has his eyes torn out because shortly after losing his eyes Gloucester is reformed by gaining the wisdom to see through Edmonds lies. This explains how the justice used in the play can be related to modern day justice because they both use punishment as a way to reform an individual. Poetic Justice
Related to
Modern Justice Justice In King Lear
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