Shakespeare’s King Lear depicts a world where love is taken to the very borderline of sanity and insanity. The play has an amazing atmosphere of concurrent emotions such as love, honesty, loyalty, understanding, hatred, deception self-centredness, lust, anger and self destruction. This is clearly evident through the main characters. Lear loves his daughters so much that he is prepared to abdicate his duties and divide his Kingdom based on declarations of love from his three daughters - This is absolutely ludicrous of him and ultimately leads to his own desolation. It is impossible to measure love so how is it possible to divide a kingdom based on this measurement? Gonerill and Regan are perfect examples of deception, hatred and self-centredness. They are prepared to obsequiously grovel before Lear in order to inherit great portions of his realm. Their deceit, hatred and lust towards Edward travels round and round in it‘s vicious circle, destroying all that is pure and innocent until it eventually destroys them.
In contrast, Cordelia is innocent, honest, loyal and loving towards her father and virtually all the characters she associates with. She is the voice of reason throughout the play, as is the fool. Her death marks the beginning of the end for Lear. His realisation of her great love for him, how he unjustly punished her and thoughts of why she of all people had to die, engulfs him. He comes out of his psychosis but, unfortunately, perishes from the shear pain of his loss. This consciousness in Lear is the very essence of the play. People can be quite nonsensical at times. We are blinded by love, we lust, we hate, we deceive, we can be downright inhumane… And Shakespeare, by making a tragic mess of contrasting emotions through the use of characterisation, is trying to reveal that humanity brings these dilemmas upon itself and that it should open it’s eyes to actuality more often than not.