King Lear is thought the whole play a man who is a sinner and the victim of the evil deeds of those who surround him, those he keeps most close mostly are the worst sinners against him. He thinks he does the right good things but has to find out that almost everything he did out of meaning well by the people he considered as the good ones at the time he did it were the wrong moves. When Lear realizes that his moves seem to have been wrong he tells Kent and the Fool during a storm that he is "a man / More sinned against than sinning", knowing that he also made mistakes, not only the others. But is King Lear really more of a victim than a guilty one? The most shocking and maybe also the most fatal sin of King Lear is the disinheriting and chasing out of Cordelia by her own father right at the beginning of the play.
When Cordelia is asked by Lear to tell him how much she loves him she answers in a way Lear did not expect by not telling him sweet words he liked so much when they were told to him by Goneril and Regan before. She tells him that she loves him like a daughter loves her father and nothing more. Lear gets mad at her and calls for France and Burgundy, to give her to one of them as his wife. Lear disinherits Cordelia and she has to leave her home to become the wife of France.
When King Lear sends away Cordelia he also sends away his most loyal man, Kent. Kent tries to warn Lear about making a big mistake by sending away Cordelia and only listening to what Goneril and Regan say, not thinking about the consequences the disinheriting of Cordelia might have. King Lear banishes Kent and says that he will have Kent executed if he dares to ever come back again. King Lear can't realize that Kent is one of the true loyal men around him. Kent is even after that horrible treatment still loyal to his king so he comes back and serves him again in disguise. King Lear's rage doesn't allow him to see that Kent's advise is only men to protect and help his king, not to show and kind of disrespect to him.
The King is obviously not able to see that Goneril and Regan both are lying to him and that they both are only trying to blind him even more to reach their goals. Both daughters use the they have about their father to take advantage of him. His personality helps them a lot because the king seems to be a man that enjoys and loves to be blinded by sweet words rather than thinking about the words and actions of the people close to him. To think about those things may seem to be too much work to the king or maybe just unnecessary for a king. Lear's blindness could be a result of his believe in his power as a king. He just can't imagine that somebody would try and fool the king like that.
In my eyes another sin of King Lear is his incapacity of listening with his heart and soul. Lear only can listen with his ears. He can't understand what Cordelia is telling him by opening her heart and soul to him because his heart and soul are not open to words and can't be reached that way. King Lear only hears sweet words. If his heart was not closed to words he would have realised that Cordelia's words sound way more true and honest than Goneril', who tells her father that she loves him more than her eyesight, as much as she loves her life (1.
1. 54-61), or Regan's, who goes even beyond the things that Goneril said. But because only his ears listen, Lear isn't able to understand that what Cordelia says is worth a lot more than what his other daughters are telling him. This lack of judgement is fatal and costs Lear a lot in the end.
If you try to take a look at King Lear's sins in a Christian way you will also find some of the worst of all sins in his personality. Of the Seven Deadly Sins which are Envy, Pride, Lust, Gluttony, Wrath, Sloth, and Greed, I find the maybe worst of them in this king. The sins of Wrath and Pride are the most striking features of Lear's personality, and in my eyes he commits the sin of Sloth in a minor case as well. King Lear be lives that he will always be respected and honored as the king because he was born royal, even if he gives away his power to his daughters. And he wants to hear how much his daughters love him to show him how great he is.
King Lear himself thinks very very high of his own person and he wants to hear this as well from all people around him. Wrath and Pride lead him to sending away both Kent and Cordelia, Pride makes him listen to Goneril and Regan. The minor case of Sloth in my eyes shows because King Lear does rather listen than think about what he is told, as I mentioned before already. If Lear was not a bit lazy in his mind he would sooner have realized that his daughters, except for Cordelia, are just talking but saying nothing.
Those sins and weaknesses in Lear's personality are the of his other sins, the things that lead to the fatal situation at the end of the play because Goneril and Regan both might have been influenced by the character weakness of their father during all their lives and have developed their own weaknesses out of seeing their father act out his own. The sins committed against King Lear are also sever and to him most horrible. The punishment of Kent by Cornwall is a clear offence to King Ler as Kent came there as his messenger and servant and was punished so cruel and openly for all to see shows Ler the total disrespect of both, his daughter and her husband. The next bad thing happening to the former great king comes only shortly afterwards.
He has to find out the hard way that both of his daughters have neither love nor respect for him and that a king who gives away his power is no king anymore. First Goneril takes from Lear's hundred knights away fifty. When Lear comes to Regan, she also takes away some of the knights, leaving only twenty five to him. Totally shocked Lear goes to Goneril and complains about Regan because Goneril at least wanted to leave fifty knights to the former king, but Goneril and Regan both agree on the fact that King Lear neither needs nor deserves even one knight (2. 2.
449-453) Lear flees with his true loyal followers out into the storm where he then says "I am a man / More sinned against than sinning." In my eyes the worst sin against Lear has not yet been committed at this time of the play but comes no sooner than at the end of the play. Edmund gives the order to have Cordelia hanged and so he takes away the only on that really cared for King Lear even though Lear does not realize her death in the end and dies believing Cordelia, who he now knows was the only true loving daughter of the three, is still alive. After all I come to the conclusion that the statement of King Lear about himself is not really accurate. My opinion is that Lear's sins weight stronger and the sins against him are the pure results of his own doings. His rage and temper and pride have made him send away Cordelia and so is he responsible fore her fate and death in the end. I also think that Lear's bad personality had a very bad influence on both of his elder daughters and that his bad way of treating people have shown both Goneril and Regan in what ways you can behave when you are the one in power.
Of course Goneril and Regan both already might have had their own weaknesses but King Kear's behaviour in front of them might also have done a lot of damage. So I believe that if Lear had not committed so many sins himself he would never have fallen like this. And it is also because of his sin of pride that to him the sins of the others against him seem so bad while his own sins are not that strong in his eyes. This is why I think King Lear is not a man more sinners against than sinning.