“Power off, we see this from the

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power, corrupts absolutely” -Lord Acton. Absolute power exists everywhere, be it within social circles, financial capital, and even our closest family relationships, and can bring even the strongest of bonds crumbling. The destructive effects of absolute power, is shown best in the tragedy “King Lear” by William Shakespeare, by two of the plays most prominent personas; King Lear and Gloucester. King Lear’s belief in his absolute power as king, made him blind to the betrayal of his daughters Goneril and Regan, and led to his inability to see Cordelia’s true love for him through her actions, and for Gloucester, it was the power that laid in his absolute trust, that led to his failure to realize that Edmund corrupted his trust until it was too late. First off, we see this from the outset of the play, with Goneril and Regan as they are both desperately attempting to take over all of Lear’s power and wealth. It has been clear through a love test conducted by King lear that he clearly does not see the purpose behind the actions of his daughters. Due to his absolute power as king, he assumed that nobody would be able to rule over him or take over even at his old as well as insecure state of mind. The intentions of the two daughters are clear as they say ” I love you more than word can wield the matter ; dearer than eyesight , space and liberty/ As much as child e’er loved, or father found/Beyond all manner of so much I love you”  (1.1. 56-63)Goneril and Regan are accurate examples of how the power of Love could be corrupted if one is oblivious to manipulative minds. Since neither Goneril or Regan wanted Lear’s presence but rather have his power over the kingdom, his land and his wealth. “Hear me , my Lord. What need you five and twenty, ten, or five, to follow in a house where twice so many have a command to tend you?” (2.4. 259-262)They demonstrate their corrupting of power as they attempt to manipulate Lear into giving them everything that he values in his life. The daughters are aware that once Lear gives up half his knights his power is already half as valuable for him than it was earlier. King Lear on the other hand, blindly believes the words of his daughters whom he thinks loves him as ” an enemy to all other joys” (1.1.75) which clearly is all fake. Though this is shown through the falsely angelic Goneril and Regan, the theme of power corruption, is magnified by the the betrayed daughter that truly cared for King Lear, Cordelia. This is continued when King Lear’s  blind actions destructively influenced his power as a King and lead him to banishing Cordelia. It seems as if the betrayal by Goneril and Regan was a result of his actions towards Cordelia as he took the love he had for her , to give to his unloyal daughters. Cordelia lost her power as she said these words to Lear ” Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your majesty, according to my bond,no more no less.” (1.1.93-95) These words by Cordelia proves that she claimed that her love for her father is nothing more or less than one of a parental bond, and cannot be described through words. Her banishment that followed suit, demonstrated King Lear’s gradual descent, and loss of a familial bond of one that truly cares about him, because he believed in the seemingly “absolute” power of Goneril’s and Reagan’s deeper love claim, which corrupted him,   losing Cordelia as a result, which was the bond that in the end, truly mattered. Though king Lear had many flaws in the form of his status that left him blind to how the power corrupted him, Gloucester’s situation showed that absolute power, and the following corruption, comes in many forms.”The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse” These words by Edmund Burke can be best described by two prominent  characters in King Lear, Edmund and Gloucester. Starting from the beginning of the play, Edmund plays the role of a bastard which is portrayed clearly through a series of events. His character is determined to gain all of the power that his father acquires so he can take over his father’s wealth. This is clear to the reader through these words:”Who in the lusty stealth of nature takeMore compositio and fierce QualityThan doth within a dull, stale , tired bed…..…..Shall top th’legtimate I grow, I prosper. Now, gods, stand up for bastards!” (1.2.11-22) In order to gain power he misuses the power of trust Gloucester had to manipulate him by composing a letter pretending to be his innocent brother, Edgar. Since Gloucester was afraid of losing his power due to his most beloved son he blindly believed Edmund would lose his value without his power and wealth. “This villain of mine comes under the prediction of mine: there’s son against father” (1.2.119-120)The fact that Edmund would go out of his way just to turn his own brother and father against each other is how she demonstrates the corruption of the power of absolute trust. Edmund knowing his father had absolute trust in him, was able to manipulate his father in such a way that caused an everlasting familial bond to weaken, and break, to the point where his father had completely turned against Edgar, showing that even in the form of trust, absolute power, still corrupts absolutely. In the end, we can see that absolute power does corrupt absolutely, and can affect different people in different ways, with King Lear as he let his power take over his actions towards his beloved daughter Cordelia and the need for power by Goneril and Regan as well as Gloucester’s loss of power from his absolute trust for Edmund. It shows that we can only truly see what’s important to us, when we lose that absolute power, or what we initially thought meant the most of all, even if it is too late.