From Lion to Noble Dog
Imagine a lion, the king of the jungle, an animal born into royal power. This lion lives his life as the ruler of the land. Not only is he treated with respect, he demands it. Now let us suppose that this lion one day is transforms into a small powerless pup. This pup is dependent on others and must survive and grow into a mature dog in order to survive. When growing up, this pup must learn the ways of the land, because he is no longer the royalty he once was. Through this experience this pup learns compassion. He cares for others and most importantly understands that realities of the animal world.
This was the life of King Lear in William Shakespeare’s play King Lear. King Lear begins the play as king: he ruled with unchallenged power. Anyone who tried to undermine his authority was punished. Then King Lear, through his own actions, loses his power and becomes that helpless pup mentioned above. It is through this transformative experience that King Lear learns the ways of the world and the realities that confront his people. The transformation of King Lear to a man of integrity and true nobility is illustrated throughout the play.
As the play begins King Lear begins planning his retirement from the throne which triggers the beginning of transformation. King Lear’s behavior belies his positions as King. He demands respect and feels the incessant need to be praised. His fragile ego and constant need for praise is well illustrated by the scene where his daughters had to express their love for their father in order to get parts of his kingdom: “Since now we will divest us both of rule/Interest of territory, cares of state, / Which of you shall we say doth love us most? / That we our largest bounty may extend. / Where nature doth with merit challenge?” (Act I Sc. I 48-52) Each daughter is told to express their love and based on how well they expressed their love for their father, each received various amounts of the kingdom Lear leaves...