Shakespeare’s King Lear examines the consequences of loyalty

Shakespeare’s King Lear examines the consequences of loyalty. Despite the costs Kent chooses to remain loyal to King Lear. Kent stands up for his beliefs and wants to help the King even when it is difficult. He is motivated by loyalty and is willing to be blunt if that is what it takes to get his point across. He speaks out against the King and his “hideous rashness” after he witnesses how the King treats his daughter Cordelia. The normally respectful Kent speaks bluntly saying, “What wouldst thou do, old man?” (Act 1-Scene 1). Kent normally refers to the King as “my lord” or “my liege” and his bluntness is very unusual. He knows that his forwardness my make the King upset but he also knows that in order to be a good and loyal friend he must speak the truth in all situations. Kent accepts banishment for speaking out and does not hold a grudge against the King. He offers a final piece of advice saying, “See better Lear, and let me still remain the true blank of thine eye” (Act 1-Scene 1). Kent only wants what is best for the King and believes that the only way he can do that is if he remains close to the King. The extent of Kent’s loyalty is seen when he assumes a disguise as Caius in order to remain close to the King. He offers to be his servant, “I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in telling it and deliver a plain message bluntly. That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best for me is diligence” (Act1-Scene 4). The King is now hiring Caius for the same reasons he banished Kent. He needs someone to be by his side and tell him the honest truth which is all Kent wants to do. Over and over again Kent continues to show his loyalty to the King. The King begins to put more and more trust in Caius and asks him to deliver a letter to his daughter Regan. Kent accepts his task and promises not to sleep until he has delivered the letter and made the King happy. When he arrives at Gloucester’s castle he sticks up for the King and bluntly insults Edgar, Regan and Cornwall, “I have seen better faces in my time than stands on any shoulder that I see before me at this instant” (Act 2-Scene 2). Kent’s comments once again land him in trouble, but he believes that it is all a part of his duty to the King. When Kent and the King are caught out in the storm Kent leads the King through the storm to a hovel. The only thing Kent is concerned about is the comfort and well-being of the King. When Gloucester meets with Kent, Kent updates him on the Kings well-being and informs him of his deteriorating state of mind, “Here sir, but trouble him not; his wits are gone” (Act 3-Scene 6). Kent stays loyal to the King till the very end. He sees that he is not doing well but does everything in his power to make the King comfortable and ensure his well-being. As the Kings health deteriorates, we see that Kent’s well-being also worsens. When the King finally passes asway all Kents purpose and meaning in life fades away. The only thing he knew how to do was be loyal and now that the King is dead, he has nothing to live for. Even in death Kent remains loyal to his King, “I have a journey, sir, shortly to go; My master calls me, I must not say no” (Act 5-Scene3). Kent chose to remain loyal to his King even when it was difficult. He could have walked away when he was banished but he knew that the King needed him. He followed the King all the way to death and remained loyal till the end.

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