Mercy vs. Justice

How can mercy compete with justice to create an ordered and supportive world? King Lear is an excellent example of a world without justice. Justice allows for three things. When there is justice, natural laws are created, wrongs can be set right, and there are chances for mercy. Without justice, none of these would be possible. Therefore, it is essential for civilized human life. Justice creates natural laws. At the beginning of King Lear, there iss justice, and certain unspoken laws are expected to be obeyed. Daughters are to obey, honour, and love their parents.

A king is to keep his power until his death. Those loyal to a king are expected to be treated kindly for their faithfulness. Honourable people do not murder. These are only a few of the many natural laws that the world expects to be followed. Without justice, these laws would not be expected to be obeyed. Although there is justice near the beginning of the play, so many natural rules are broken that the characters find themselves in a world where there is no longer any justice. It is the breaking of the laws that leads to their downfalls.

Justice allows for wrongs to be made right. When King Lear gives away his power, “Know that we have divided/ In three our kingdom, and ’tis our fast intent/ To shake all cares and business from our age, / Conferring them on younger strengths while we/ Unburdened crawl toward death” (I i 35-40), he is essentially breaking a natural law. His daughters also break a rule saying that children should honour and love their parents when they refuse to allow their father to keep his group of soldiers that give him respect and status.

Regan states, “For his particular, I’ll receive him gladly,/ But not one follower” (II iv 289-290). Goneril replies by saying, “So am I purposed” (II iv 291). If there is no justice, none of these wrongs can be made right. The ‘good’ characters will never be recompensed for the wrongs afflicted upon them. Throughout the play, all the ‘evil’ characters end up dying. Most of them are murdered by those who are willing to stand up for their beliefs. Without justice, evil would spread without good overcoming it and setting things right.

Finally, having justice in the world allows for mercy. Giving mercy essentially means not giving people what they deserve. However, for someone to deserve a certain punishment, he/she will need to break a rule first. It goes without saying that someone serving a king should respect and honour him. If they don’t, they deserve to be punished. This is an obvious, natural law, expected to be obeyed. If there is no such law, there wouldn’t be a ‘set’ punishment, because there isn’t any rule-breaking. Therefore, there is no chance for mercy.

No one would ever get what they deserved. At the point when Cordelia says, “No cause, no cause” (IV vii 74) to her father, he deserves to be turned away and rebuked by her for having exiled her. But she is merciful towards him. This act of mercy could never have taken place if the rule of fathers loving their daughters had not been assumed. Justice isn’t just about giving people what they deserve. It’s also about giving people choices. Though mercy is important, we could not live in an ordered world without justice.

Natural laws give us the chance to do the right thing. Without them, everyone’s actions would not be determined by right or wrong. Though the laws are sometimes broken, they allow for people to get along and live together in families, societies, and cultures. Justice allows wrongs to be made right, and for mercy to be shown to others. Therefore, civilized human life is completely and utterly dependent on justice. Works Cited “King Lear” Sparknotes. Retrieved June 10, 2011. <http://nfs. sparknotes. com/lear/>.