Personal Responsibility versus Social Responsibility in King Lear

Analysis of King Lear that focuses on Lear’s downfall and what is the morally correct course of action. In other words, do the characters of King Lear owe Lear help out of his situation or is he personally responsible for pulling himself out of the problem? In what ways must people take control of their own lives and destiny? In what ways do the people in the society owe fellow human beings help out of unjust and/or dangerous situations?

  • I'm assuming this is in regards to Cordelia's banishment - it should be noted that Lear is older and mentally fragile. It is also common in Shakespearean tragedy to have an event where it inevitably ends without resolution if not more suffering, meaning that taking responsibility or being assisted will come to the same or similar conclsion. Speaking about character responsibility seems hard to do when the character in question is unstable. There might be a better way to rephrase this question so that it is more fitting but Lear is basically unable to take responsibility of his life, actions, or destiny. – Connor 7 years ago
  • I am speaking more about the Fool and Kent, both of these characters know Lear is losing his sanity and both know that he is leading himself to his own destruction. They both say that Cordelia's banishment is the best thing to happen to her, but they both stay by Lear's side until the end or their death. It is the idea that they are responsible for Lear rather than Lear responsible for himself. – courtlynn 7 years ago
  • So are you asking why Kent and the Fool remain by Lear's side and why do they feel entitled to help him even though he is no longer king, especially Kent being banished for giving his opinion on Cordelia? The responsibility predicament seems more complex in that the situation is unique and has to be addressed as such I think. Maybe be a bit more concise in the topic? Not to mention this could be expanded beyond Lear if not specified to characters such as Edgar/Poor Tom who do not have a sense of control over their situations. – Connor 7 years ago

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