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An Analysis Of The Relationship Between Goneril And Regan In King Lear

1521 words - 6 pages

"An Analysis of the Relationship between Goneril and Regan in King Lear"******IB English year 1Ms. *****4 October 2008"An Analysis of the Relationship between Goneril and Regan in King Lear"The historical tragedy of King Lear by William Shakespeare revolves around deceit, tragedy, and violations of social statuses. King Lear lives in a time when offspring contrive against their fathers, friends become enemies, and even the most honesty of characters die in agony as the story reaches its unfortunate ending. Shakespeare, in designing the plot, intends to enlighten us morally on multiple magnitudes. We are often told that Goneril and Regan are "bad" characters, and that their collaborations are what stimulate tragedy, misfortune, and the ultimate death of both primary and secondary characters. Through my experience with King Lear, I do not disagree with this view but rather extend this theory. Despite what is characteristically evident of each player in King Lear, Shakespeare leaves much room for in-depth discussion and further interpretations of his characters. The significant and special relationship between Goneril and Regan not only stimulates tragedy and misfortune but also illustrates major thematic ideas and advances the plot in ways that only Goneril and Regan could.Goneril and Regan have a long and complex relationship. Since they are the two eldest daughters of King Lear, we can assume that they have been together since infancy. This is a very interesting scenario in Elizabethan times because it is usually the King's son who inherits the entire kingdom; however, in the case of King Lear, there are three daughters instead of a son. The sisters are not unintelligent, and it is acceptable to suspect that Goneril and Regan have been fighting both socially and morally for the throne. We first observe evidence of this in Regan's speech to King Lear:"I am made of that self mettle as my sister,And prize me at her worth. In my true heartI find she names my very deed of love;Only she comes too short: that I professMyself an enemy to all other joysWhich the most precious square of sense possesses,And find I am alone felicitateIn your dear highness' love." (I.iii.68-75)In this speech, Regan tries to belittle Goneril and support her claim of Lear's wealth and power. She makes this clear when she puts on exactly the same value as Goneril but exclaims, "She comes too short" and that she is only made joyful "in [her] dear highness's love". To complicate further their situation, Shakespeare creates no motherly figures in King Lear to guide Goneril and Regan from right and wrong or soft and strong. In the "Bard on the Beach" production of King Lear, we see a similarity in Goneril and Regan's clothing: they are both wearing male attire. Such open expression of masculinity would have been absurd in Elizabethan society, however, the directors at "Bard on the Beach" have agreed to this fashion statement to expose the lawlessness and masculinity of Goneril and...

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