Many critics often interpret King Lear, one of Shakespeare's timeless classics, as a journey to self-awareness. Often times it is within he context of suffering in which this "awareness" comes about. Suffering is a challenge that can enable on to grow or surrender to defeat. In King Lear, both Lear and Gloucester have to suffer extraordinarily; this suffering, however, leads to growth and ultimately to self-awareness. Both Lear and Gloucester endure severe pain, through the banishing for their loyal children Cordelia and Edgar, respectively which leads them to self-awareness.
King Lear's hot temper and hasty decisions contribute significantly to his path of suffering. When Lear decides to abdicate his throne to his three daughters, he asks them to tell him how much they love him. Goneril and Regan shower him with false praises and declarations of their love. He believes that Cordelia possesses the most love for him, however, when she says, "I love your majesty according to my bond, no more nor less"(1.1.94-95), Lear becomes outraged and increasingly rash. Kent, a loyal servant, attempts to interrupt Lear and ask for forgiveness on behalf of Cordelia, only to which Lear becomes even more outraged. Following this, Lear banishes Kent, his most loyal servant, and his youngest and previously most loved daughter Cordelia. Lear's only condition to the division of his country is that he maintain the title of King and be allowed one hundred knights that travel with him from his other two daughter's houses, one month at a time. Goneril and Regan have another plan in which the two conspire together to strip Lear of his remaining power by disallowing his knights. When he is cast out of his own kingdom, Lear becomes caught in a storm and begins to lose his sanity because he cannot bare the treatment by his daughters as well as the error he has made with Cordelia and Kent. Lear realizes he is a "man more sinned against than sinning", and is only left with increasing sorrow and despair.