Tragedy serves a purpose. When William Shakespeare wrote the play “King Lear”, he meant for it to shock his audience. His use of King Lear as an unintending tool to the destruction and downfall of those around him serves to make the audience question the indifference of an omnipotent power to the suffering of humans as well as forcing the audience to reflect upon their own shortcomings and flaws and see how their actions might affect those closest to them.
Perhaps the person who suffers the most from King Lear’s tragic flaws of hubris and insecurity is his youngest daughter Cordelia. She epitomizes goodness, honesty, and virtue, yet this is not enough to save her from being disowned and banished by her father in a fit of rage. Even when she knows she is to suffer and possibly die she still worries more for her father than for herself, as is expected with her altruistic nature, “For thee, oppressed King, I am cast down. / Myself could else outfrown false fortune’s frown” (IV.iii.6-7). Her disownment and eventual demise leave the audience with the despairing feeling that there is no justice in the world, no benevolent higher power to look out for those who are truly good. Arguably her murderer is also killed, but this does not right the wrongs done to her or bring her back.
Another character who is made to suffer by Lear is his most honest and loyal of friends, Kent. Kent embodies what should be desired in a friend and a good man, but like Cordelia, this does not save him. He is banished and left without his title. The closer he is to Lear the greater his suffering, as seen when Kent rejoins the king as a new servant, Caius. The fool puts it best when he prophetically jests that, “there’s no / laboring i' th' winter” (II.iv.60-61), implying that there is no profit in any of Kent’s loyalty. As predicted, none of Kent’s efforts or good deeds are rewarded in the slightest. Once again the Gods remain indifferent to the torture of the good by the evil.