Wisdom is something that you gain with age, something that you gain with maturity, but that’s not always the case, as we noticed with King Lear and Morrie Schwartz. Both from different worlds, Lear and Morrie both acquire knowledge differently, but at the same time, acquire it similarly. Lear was an attention seeking king who wanted everyone to love him and show it and neglected him family, whereas Morrie was the opposite and cared about family and love. Morrie didn’t like the way society was heading, and thought that the world was being brainwashed, whereas King Lear cared about society, especially because he was head of the hierarchy being the king. Lear was afraid of death and wanted to live the life of a king forever, comparative to Morrie who welcomed death with open arms and thought of death as natural. They may seem as complete opposites, they underwent their trials and tribulations differently but came out of it with the same knowledge and wisdom but they realized it at a later age, when it seemed too late.
King Lear was afraid of death and intended to end his life as a king, whereas Schwartz accepted death and was happy that his life was coming to a close. Morrie was quoted as saying “Oh yes, you strip away all that stuff and you focus on the essentials. When you realize you are going to die, you see everything much differently…Learn how to die, and you learn how to live” (Tuesdays with Morrie page 83). What Morrie is saying is that since he knows he’s going to die soon, he can enjoy life more and be more peaceful, he also enjoys being able to have a lot of time to say goodbye, rather than dying tragically or all too suddenly. At the start, Lear was afraid but after going through so much and acquiring a lot of wisdom and knowledge he finally decides to accept death. “Let me wipe it first, it smells of mortality.” (Act 4, Scene 6 – 125-126). This quote exemplifies his new thought process of death as Gloucester attempts to kiss Lear’s hand.
At the end both Lear and Schwartz acquire wisdom and knowledge through death, even though Lear was reluctant to die at the beginning. Morrie was a very opinionated gentleman about life itself, especially about society. He always stated that society was being brainwashed, as we see in this quote “Do you know how they brainwash people? They repeat something over and over again. And that’s what we do in this country. Owning things is good. More money is good. More property is good. More commercialism is good…We repeat it-and have it repeated to us-over and over until nobody bothers to even think other wise” (Tuesdays with Morrie page 124).” Throughout the book, Morrie always had an issue with society saying that it was filled with propaganda about things that don’t matter like money or houses or jobs. Rather, he’d wish the world was more filled with love and friendship. On the other end of the spectrum we have King Lear, where he only cared for himself and no one else. He was a very selfish man, top of the hierarchy and did everything possible to stay on top.
The things he did as a king was sometimes mind blowing as he once asked that “All I ask is that you provide me with a hundred knights for my own entourage. I’ll keep only the title of king…”(Act 1, Scene 2- 136-138).” This quote shows how little he cares about his kingdom, as even with a war impending from France, he takes 100 knights for himself just to show off his status. Only near the end of his life did he realize how terribly he treated not only his family, but society itself and wishes that he were a better king. Once again near the end of their lives do they acquire wisdom and knowledge, but this time through society and how it plays out. King Lear once again had to go through hardship to find knowledge whereas Schwartz already knew and spoke about this topic openly throughout his later years. Morrie Schwartz thought very highly of love to a point where he’d rather die than live a life without love.
“If you don’t have the support and love and caring and concern that you get from a family, you don’t have much at all. Love is so supremely important. As our great poet Auden said “Love each other or perish””(page 91)” Morrie grew up as a kid without much love from his family, so as he grew up he understood the importance of love. He realized that people need and crave love and coming from past experience he understands the meaning of love and emphasizes it strongly throughout his later years. King Lear believed that as a king, everyone should bow down to him and love him. He believed that to get somewhere in life, you should beg and show affection to the king, which is exactly what he enforced onto his kids. “Tell me, my daughters, Since now we will divest us both of rule, Interest of territory, cares of state Which of you shall we say doth love us most That we our largest bounty may extend Where nature doth with merit challenge?”(Act 2, Scene 2, 47-53)”.
King Lear made his daughters fight tooth and nail for the throne but little did he know that secretly they were concocting a plan to divide the kingdom in two and run him out, all because he showed no love and neglected his daughters for the throne. Morrie came to terms with love near the end of his life but nonetheless he received and gave love equally, whereas King Lear had to learn it the hard way, through death. Nonetheless they both end up appreciating their families and acquire knowledge and wisdom.
At the beginning of each novel, King Lear and Morrie Schwartz had different views on life. Lear didn’t show any love, cared about his status in society and was afraid of death. Comparatively Schwartz was a loveable guy, was disgusted by society and he accepted death with open arms. But after going through life changing events, Lear turned into the exact opposite, where he started loving his family and friends, started caring for society and started to accept death with open arms, just like Morrie. So in the end both characters come from different worlds, both reunited by a single goal, even though they didn’t go through the same vigorous path, it was quite similar. The main goal was to acquire knowledge and wisdom, and they for sure attained their goals.