King Lear and Social Class

In Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of King Lear, multiple character’s realize the injustice baked into our society through social class. Both Lear and Gloucester realize, when at their lowest, that they are not alone in their struggles. The injustices that they faced in those moments was an experience shared widely across their kingdom, by many, many more people. They both come to the realization that they haven’t been doing enough to address the gap between the social classes, and realized that it is too late for them to make a difference because they had lost all of their power. They both remark on how the rich and those in power should experience what it is like to be poor and to suffer. If the rich knew how they were feeling, they would be more likely to do something about it. Lear adds that the rich will not act in the favor of the poor because they enjoy their current lives and refuse to see the struggles of those around them. This idea, although written hundreds of years ago, is still incredibly relevant today. There are millions op people in this country who are struggling to make ends meet and living paycheck to paycheck, off of wages that aren’t enough to survive. The working class has been routinely manipulated and abused in order to fund the extravagant lives of the wealthy. Those currently in power don’t want to do anything in order to aid the working class, partially because they enjoy their comfortable lives themselves, and partially because they are in league with the wealth, who want to use working class people for as much labor as possible and hoard all of the profits for themselves. The play argues that, if the wealthy were to experience what it is like to be poor, and that it is not a choice, they wouldn’t be so cruel and would make an effort to help them more. While I think this idea is a good one in theory, the wealthy would never be put in the situation of the poor, and if they were, there would be another wealthy person to take their place and continue to manipulate the working class. I think, in agreement with Lear, that the best way to aid the working class and make things right is to redistribute the wealth that those in power have accumulated and hoard for themselves. If their wealth was redistributed among the people, we would have a better, more efficient, and equitable society in which we don’t have people starving and dying ion the streets, or going bankrupt because they can’t afford healthcare.

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