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King Lear And Conflict With His Daughters

1580 words - 6 pages

The general plot of King Lear revolves mainly around the conflict between the King and his daughters, although there is a definite and distinct sub-plot dealing with the plight and tragedy of Gloucester as well. One of the main themes that Shakespeare chooses to focus on in King Lear is the dysfunctional nature of not only the royal family and Gloucester, but the heartache and emotional strain that goes along with being a parent and having to make a decision that will divide your children. This play focuses on not only the after effects of this decision, but the way in which it affects the King, his children and his subjects as well. King Lear is also a play full of deceit and betrayal. This is clearly seen in the first few lines. We first learn of the empty words of Goneril and Regan as well as their hatred and contempt for their father, King Lear. Their attitudes towards Lear becomes the center of the play and also leads to the madness that the king suffers from.The first words that Goneril speaks are totally empty and are the opposite of what she really feels. She says, "Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter; Dearer than eye-sight, space and liberty;" (I.i.60-62). The reason there are no words to express her love for her father is that she has no love for him and it does not exist The same goes for her sister, Regan, who is plotting against her father as well. She says that she feels the same way as her sister and expresses how Goneril has named her very deed of love. Regan adds a little twist to this and professes that she loves Lear more than her sisters and that Goneril's affection for her father "comes too short."(I.i.71) By uttering these words, Regan shows that her love is even less true than that of her sister's. She goes even farther to say:...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.i.79-73This goes to show that she is more greedy than her sister and her words are more artificial. She wants more than her sister and will do anything to attain her goal. Her ambition to get what she wants is evident in the words that she speaks. She claims herself to be "an enemy to all other joys" but she is really the enemy to her father.The next person King Lear calls to speak is his soft-spoken daughter, Cordelia. Lear does not have much respect for her because she does not flatter him and put him on the pedestal that he feels he deserves. This is exactly what his other daughters do and he feels very strongly that Cordelia should do the same. Because of all the flattery that was given him by his other two daughters, he gives them most of his possessions. The first thing that Cordelia says when the King asks her to speak is "nothing." The king is enraged by this remark and says that, "Nothing will come of nothing: speak again."(I.i.99) When Cordelia speaks again she says that she does love him but according to their bond,...

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