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Word Count: 952
The concept that nothing is a crucial and even integral element of mans existence this paradox of the importance of nothing has been a difficult one for man to grasp In his renowned play King Lear William Shakespeare attempts through the story of a king suffering the consequences of his poor judgment in assessing the character of each of his three daughters to illustrate the significance of nothing In the opening scene of the play King Lear unreservedly awards his kingdom to two of his three daughters believing that they love him most Lears fool later describes this rash act saying thou hast pared thy wit o both sides and left nothing i the middle 14180-181 Because Lear has kept nothing for himself in respect to property he loses also his identity This loss is also observed by the fool when he speculates I am better than thou art now I am a fool thou art nothing 14187-188 and again in the same scene when Lear asks if there is anyone who can tell him who he is and the fool responds Lears shadow 14225 The fools comment that he is better now reveals a decline in Lears status since the surrender of his kingdom to his daughters that the loss of his material wealth has led to a loss of personal identity When the fool likens him to his own shadow his belittlement is complete as he is compared to an illusion something entirely intangible nothing of worth or substance Because Lear has nothing he is nothing thus nothing leads to more nothing In the same way that forfeiting his fortune leads to Lears loss of identity his daughters commitment to allow him to keep nothing of his previously agreed entourage and offer him nothing in regard to power or their love spurs a complete loss of Lears mental ability When he realizes their betrayal Lear laments Our basest beggars
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