Confrontations Between Young and Old in King Lear
One of the underlying themes in Shakespeare's play, King Lear is
the concept of the generation gap. This gap is mainly illustrated between
the family. The older generation is Lear himself, and the younger
generation consists of his daughters Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. In the
second plot of the play, Gloucester represents the older generation, and
his sons, Edmund and Edgar exemplifies the younger generation. Both
younger generations can be divided into two distinct groups. Goneril,
Regan and Edmund are the villains in both the plots and Edgar and Cordelia
are the loyal, faithful children. This little twist adds to the effect of
the generation gap in the play. There are many comparisons that can be
made and confrontations that occur between the generations. These events
contribute to the themes of authority, power and loyalty, judgment and
wisdom. Overall, it emphasizes the general themes of the generation gap.
Symbolism contributes to the themes authority and power in King
Lear. These symbols are represented by material things. For example, in
[Act 1 scene 1] when Lear is dividing up his land, power and authority to
his three daughters, depending on how much they can verbally express their
love for him. [Lines 52-53] "Which of you shall say doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend where nature doth with merit
challenge." The land that each daughter received is the extent of their
authority and of their power in the Kingdom. For example, the Duke of
Burgundy did not wish to marry Cordelia after he found out she was getting
nothing from her father. He was marrying her for power and authority.
Goneril's servants show disrespect toward Lear which shows that
Lear's authority and power over them has diminished. An example of this is
Oswald's attitude towards Lear after his daughter, Goneril told him to show
discourtesy towards Lear. [Act 1 scene 4, Lines 75-80] "O, you, sir, you!
Come you hither, sir. Who am I, sir? My Lady's Father. "My Lady's
Father"? My lords knave! You Whoreson dog! You Slave! You Cur!"
Another example of lost authority and power in this act is when
Lear's Fool offers Lear his Coxcomb (Jester's Cap) and tells him how
foolish he was when he gave up his power to Goneril and Regan.
Lear's 100 Knights symbolize Lear's power in his mind. When Lear
is confronted by his daughter Goneril and is told by her that his men are
too disruptive and are to be trimmed to half because she feels he does not
need them. Lear is angered at Goneril for this because the Knights
represents the remainder of his limited power. Regan then tells him in
order to stay with her, he had to dismiss all but 25 knights because he...