The Corruption of Power

One of the most common desires is the one for power, yet seldom wonder about the effects it would bring. If a person were to obtain a large amount of power, whether it be the head of a kingdom or the leader of a family, how would they change? How hard would they fight to maintain their status? What would happen to them if they lost their power? Shakespeare’s dramatic play “King Lear” is a showcase of what power truly does to a person.

At the start of the play, Lear is a man who obsesses over his role as the King of England. While dividing up his land as he steps down, his two older daughters shower him in false flattery in an attempt to receive as much as possible from their father. His other daughter Cordelia, however, rejects his land, stating that she only wants his love. Lear rejects her honest compassion, preferring the attention from his other daughters. He is too flattered by the admiration from Reagan and Goneril to realize that it was false. His focus on appearance and power distracts him from his duties.

Lear’s obsession with appearance comes to a halt following his abdication. Being oblivious to his daughters’ deceit, he hoped to maintain his status without the title. However, he had heard that his servant, Oswald, had been sent away by Goneril. Lear arrives to Regan’s castles and details the pain that Goneril has caused him, but Regan sides with her sister. She also refuses to host him at her castle, as she sees her father as just a foolish old man. Lear becomes enraged at her actions, and he curses his daughters for their bad deeds. He proclaims that man is different from beast when stripped of his luxuries.

Lear, who was once the King of England, has been reduced a peasant that a king would most likely ignore. He was blinded by the flattery that he had received, as it reminded him of his status as a powerful king and loving father. His daughters then show their true intent, revealing their true intentions. Had he followed Cordelia and her honest love, he would have most likely been treated as he indented. His quest to maintain power was the cause of its removal.

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