King Lear Rite Of Passage

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No one ever goes through life without ever questioning his or her purpose. Numerous philosophers attempt to tackle this question, especially in Europe during the 16th and 17th century. While many writers completed commendable works regarding the topic, the most provocative piece remains Shakespeare’s King Lear. Shakespeare utilizes a combination of great thinkers before him to strip away illusions and directly comment on the rite of passage one must go through to be the best version of oneself. As mentioned, Shakespeare focuses on rites of passage as the key element in answering the question “Who am I?” To express the need for a person to go through a transitional period of self-reflection, Shakespeare establishes characters within King Lear…show more content…
For this reason, early on in the play during Act One Shakespeare highlights the lack of maturity of King Lear when he demands, “Tell me, my daughters/(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”(Shakespeare 7). King Lear’s desire to decide the next ruler based on which daughter loves him the most underscores his desperate need for attention and unwillingness to give up control. At Lear’s age, a natural loss of power would occur. Lear adamantly opposes transitioning to the next stage in life, thus setting him up for a forced rite of passage. In contrast to Lear, Cordelia gracefully accepts the change that comes along with age. Cordelia holds her ground with her assertion, “As I am glad I have not, though not to have it hath lost me in your liking” (Shakespeare 19) when asked to elaborate on her love for the king. On top of this, the term “washed eyes” (Shakespeare 21) also emphasizes the strength Cordelia demonstrates when undergoing her transition from a young girl to a woman. Through this interaction Shakespeare highlights the theme of blindness versus sight, which underscores the need to undertake a forced rather than a voluntary rite of passage – if one is blind to the truth, one will eventually unwillingly stumble upon a journey of

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