Shakespeare's tragedy, 'King Lear', tells the epic story of a man who loses all he has, to gain self-knowledge and an insight into reality, truth and the nature of love. In the first scene of the play we are introduced to a strong-willed and all-powerful King Lear. He proves himself to be a bold monarch but Lear also proves himself to be a vindictive and difficult old man. In the first act, as the demanding king asks of his daughters 'Which of you shall we say doth love us most?', it is clear that Lear is ignorant and self-serving as he, wanting to pass on the responsibility of the kingdom, but keep the privilidges of being king, asks his daughters who loves him the most and therefore will take the best care of him in his old age.

His own childish reasoning starts the king's spiritual journey through suffering and loss. Lear's inability to judge appearance from reality is first visible in his failure to recognize the insincere flattery of his older daughters and the honesty and love in Cordelia's plain words. Her refusal to 'heave her heart into her mouth' sets her father into an insane rage, as he does not understand the true nature of her love. Goneril and Regan easily convince Lear that they deserve the kingdom with their false professions of love, and the promise that they will look after him in his old age 'I do invest you jointly with my power and all the large effects that troop with majesty. Ourself. By you to be sustained'.

As she will not pander to his immature need for flattery, Lear brands Cordelia as 'so young and so untender' and, as 'nothing will come of nothing', he banishes her from the kingdom. 'Here I disclaim all my paternal care'. Lear's decision to cast out his youngest daughter and give his kingdom to Goneril and Regan is later seen to be an ill-fated mistake, made by a presumptuous and ignorant old man. The king effectively made himself open to the abuse of Goneril and Regan by giving the kingdom to them;