Family Relationships In King Lear

Examples of sacrifice in king lear.

At some point in the Falling Action, we have Cordelia locked up, due to her sister’s orders and all to save her father. We would expect for her to have rage towardhim, since he at the beginning of the novel got rid of her and not cared about her at all, but Cordelia could not feel that way towards him, she was the only honest one of all the three sisters and ended up being the one who loved him the most. King lear, aswell, realized a bit late that Cordelia was the only one that cared for him, and that she was the one that deserved to receive his love and inheritance since the beginning, but it was all too late, having Cordelia die in his hands for the mistakes and misjudgement he

Selfishness In King Lear

Shakespeare’s King Lear, also follows Poetics guidelines of tragedy with the death of Cordelia, and Lear’s kommos. In the beginning of the tragedy, King Lear is ready to disperse his kingdom between his three daughters. “Which of you shall we say doth love us most, / That we our largest bounty may extend/ Where nature doth with merit challenge…”, Lear challenges his daughters (I, i, 53-55). Lear desires for his daughters to express their love for their father and he will give the daughter, with the greatest affection, the largest section of land. Regan and Goneril, two of the daughters, express their great love for their father, yet Cordelia, Lear’s favorite, answers with “Nothing” (I, i, 91). Lear, not receiving the answer he wished for, banishes Cordelia without a dowry to marry the King of France. Lear is then faced with being kicked out of his other daughters’ houses and his own kingdom; after these events Lear proceeds to go insane. King Lear even regrets Cordelia’s banishment later in scene one, “I did her wrong” (I, v, 25). Lear’s actions and selfishness cause pity for Cordelia because of her devotion to her father; however, in the end of the tragedy, he is faced with a realization of his mistake which leads to a katharsis of feelings of pity for Cordelia.

Traumatic Events In King Lear By William Shakespeare

King Lear responds to Cordelia in an insane rage by saying to her: “Here I disclaim all my paternal care, / propinquity, and property of blood, / and as a stranger to my heart and me / hold thee from this forever” (King Lear 1.1.113-116). King Lear responds to his favorite daughter by telling her that he no longer views her as his own flesh and blood, that he views her as a stranger from now on and disowns her. Such an egregious response to truth about love can be nothing but insanity. The king’s response is completely disproportionate to the cause. Lear could have responded with a bit of compassion and asked Cordelia to explain and expand upon her statement, but he did not. King Lear could have taken a moment or two to ponder his daughters’ responses and decide the validity of each response, but he does not. King Lear seems to be looking for the sweet flowery speeches and ego inflating words from his children and when he does not receive these from his favorite child, he responds most unpleasantly and out of

King Lear - Disruption Of Order In King Lear And The Causes Essay

Shakespeare's King Lear is a play which shows the consequences of one man's decisions. The audience follows the main character, Lear, as he makes decisions that disrupt order in his Kingdom. When Lear surrenders all his power and land to his daughters as a reward for their demonstration of love towards him, the breakdown on order in evident. Lear's first mistake is to divide his Kingdom into three parts. A Kingdom is run best under one ruler as only one decision is made without contradiction. Another indication that order is disrupted is the separation of Lear's family. Lear's inability to control his anger causes him to banish his youngest daughter, Cordelia, and loyal servant, Kent. This foolish act causes Lear to become vulnerable to

Essay about Role Reversal in King Lear

     King Lear, known as one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, deeply affects its audience by playing out the destruction of two families. At the end of this play two of the protagonists, King Lear and his loyal friend the Earl of Gloucester, die after having suffered through major injustices at the hands of their own children. These characters’ deaths are incredibly tragic because they are brought on by their own actions instead of by the circumstances that surround them. Lear and Gloucester are not bad men but rather good men that make the fatal mistake of not acting according to their positions in life. In doing so, they ultimately force their children, Cordelia and Edgar respectively, to take on

The Dysfunctional Family of King Lear Essay

In his tragedy King Lear, William Shakespeare presents two families: a family consisting of a father and his three daughters, and a family consisting of a father and his two sons, one of which is a bastard son. While he has the sons basically come out and admit that one of them is good and the other evil, the Bard chooses to have the feelings of the daughters appear more subtlely. At no point in King Lear does Shakespeare come out and blatantly tell his audience that Cordelia is the most caring and loving daughter, while her two sisters are uncaring and greedy, and love their father only when they stand to gain from it. However, via the three daughters’ speeches throughout King Lear, he does

Theme Of Family Dysfunction In King Lear

King Lear is play about a king who decided to step down from his throne and split his kingdom evenly among his three beautiful daughters. He put them through a test to see who loves him the most to his surprise only one loves him the most out of all three. Gloucester have one illegitimate son and one by law but soon knows that they both want him dead. Throughout the play, not only did King Lear had family problems but other people that was surrounded around King Lear was having problems as well. In this paper, it will discuss how two different families have a similar theme which is family dysfunction and how both handle it differently.

Reckless Love in King Lear and 1984 Essay

Destruction of one’s state of existence is not only evident in 1984 but also in Shakespeare’s King Lear. Unlike 1984, the destructive love in this classic is not romantic love, but the love between a father and his son. Gloucester, a noble that serves King Lear, has two sons. His eldest son, Edgar, is legitimate while his younger son, Edmund is illegitimate. Edmund resents his status as a

King Lear Rhetorical Analysis

After King Lear’s two oldest daughters, Goneril and Regan express their love for their father in a flattering speech they were granted their share of the kingdom, and Cordelia his youngest daughter and favorite daughter refused to play along, Lear felts she was disrespectful and she was banished from his sight. Cordelia bids farewell to her sisters, and tells them that she knows they don’t love him, “I know you what you are, and like a sister am most loath to call your faults as they are named.” (1.2.273-275). “Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides; who covers faults, at last shame them derides. Well may you prosper!” (1.2.284-286). Once Cordelia left, Goneril and Regan revealed to the audience that they had no love for their father.

Theme Of Hunger For Power In King Lear

At the beginning of the play King Lear has more power than anyone else, the feeling of power made him think it was okay to ask his three daughters who loved him the most. When his youngest and favourite daughter Cordelia did not give him the answer he wanted by saying, “Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave / My heart into my mouth/ I love your majesty / According to my bond, no more nor less” (King Lear 1.1.91-93). he started lashing out. Lear clearly values Goneril and Regan fawning over him over Cordelia’s sincere honesty. Out of pride and anger, Lear banishes Cordelia, as well as Kent for defending her. Lear splits the kingdom in half to Goneril and Regan which leads to the deaths of many people in the play. Throughout the play he becomes increasingly shocked when people do not obey him the way they did before and the lack of respect he receives. With his loss of power Lear often responds to these problems with anger saying things like “My curses on her!” (2.4.138). about his own daughter. By the end of the play he recognizes that he takes responsibility for both his own problems and for those of others. King Lear’s actions were the first step to the plays tragic outcome.

Essay about King Lear - Seven Deadly Sins

At the beginning of the play King Lear denounces Cordelia as his daughter in a fit of rage. He has this reaction simply because she refused to flatter him and speak exaggerations of her love for him. As his favourite daughter, Lear was expecting Cordelia to shower him with compliments and praises like his other two daughters and when this did not occur he was overwhelmed with fury and denounces her as his daughter. Lear also falls victim to wrath once he realizes what his other two daughters have done to him. “I will have such revenges on you both, That all the world shall--I will do such things,-- What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be The terrors of the earth.” (2.4.305-9). In this quote Lear reveals the wrath that he wishes to inflict on both of his daughters for deceiving him and rejecting him after he gave them everything he had. King Lear’s wrath is fueled by his daughters’ betrayal. Lear never actually did proceed to inflict his wrath upon his daughters but he did however have every intention of doing so if given the opportunity.

Betrayal In King Lear

In these situations, the cast confronts instances of betrayal and eventually self-growth. The story initiates with King Lear’s urgency for flattery, which drives him to commit a decision that instigated the power-hungry course of his daughters. The betrayal of Goneril and Regan caused Lear to separate from his man-made principles and praise those of nature. Besides the change in Lear, the audience also observed Gloucester’s position concerning the legitimacy of his two sons. Societal views were a detriment regarding the rights of illegitimate children, like Edmund. Seeing his brother Edgar conquer all his father’s treasures, Edmund left his praise of nature behind and instead exploited the reliance of status and relationships in his royal family to overcome the laws of society, forming a great deception against his own family.

Theme Of Human Nature In King Lear

It is clear from the beginning of King Lear that Cordelia has an entirely good nature, she remains constant throughout the play, never wavering in her morals. The play begins with Lear deciding that he will have his daughters compete for their divisions of his kingdoms based on which of them can impress him the most with their proclamations of love. Cordelia, however, cannot express her love for her father in words, and refuses to deceive him by doing otherwise, stating that she is “sure [her] love's more richer than [her] tongue” (278-80). She realizes that by holding her tongue she is infuriating her father, but her nature cannot allow her to do otherwise. When King Lear asks her what she has to say, she states “Nothing, my lord.” This shows Cordelia’s inherent good nature by doing what is right in a tough situation. Lear’s lack of understanding of the natural bond between parents and their children leads him to his eventual demise. He is easily mislead by the other sisters, Goneril and Regan’s fake natural behavior when they give their long speeches in order to try and flatter him.

The Nature of King Lear Essay

The subplot in King Lear is of Gloucester and his sons Edmund and Edgar. Edmund, the illegitimate, bastard son, can be seen as somehow unnatural according to the laws of society at that time. Gloucester himself says to Kent, regarding Edgar, "But I have, sir, a son by order of law..." (I.i. 18). The subtext here is that Edmund's conception was outside the law and unnatural to the social structure.

Relationships In King Lear

William Shakespeare’s King Lear is massive in scope and deals with many themes. I’d like to focus on King Lear’s relationship with his daughters as it evolves throughout the play as well as the play King Lear’s themes regarding politics and politicking. The passage I think best represents the conclusion of these themes is King Lear’s conversation with Cordelia in Act 5, scene 3 where they have been taken prisoner by the English. My conclusion from reading this passage closely is that in Shakespeare’s King Lear, King Lear’s speech to Cordelia regarding their impending imprisonment builds Shakespeare’s idea of caged potential and judgement for those who politic.

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king lear family relationships essay

Family Relationships in 'King Lear'

Throughout King Lear the idea of family relationships is explored through the parent-child relationships seen through Lear and his daughter and Gloucester and his sons. Shakespeare explores how the decisions made by both Lear and Gloucester lead to the breakdown of their family relationships. Through misunderstandings, lies and deceit, these family experience the effects of being held apart. There is also the aspect of the way in which families are held together explored through Cordelia's love of Lear and Edger's love of his father Gloucester. Throughout Shakespeare's King Lear , the relationship between Lear and his daughter's is centered. In the open act, a love test created by Lear is aimed at Cordelia in order to justify giving her a larger portion of his wealth and land. However, Lear expects that Cordelia will provide him with tremendous amounts of flattery and confessions of love, and when she replies with a more tempered answer Lear 's outrage is made evident. "Good my lord, / You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I / Return those duties back as are right fit, / Obey you, love you, and most honour you. / Why have my sisters husbands, if they say / They love you all? / Haply, when I shall wed. / That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry / Half my love with him, half my care and duty: / Sure, I shall never marry like my sister, to love my father all" (1.1.95) With the misreading of Cordelia's devotion, Lear renounces his "parental care" (1.1.113) and withdraws his "father's heart" (1.1.127). Lear further banishes Cordelia and divides the inheritance to her sisters. It is at this point, that the break down of parental - child relationship between Lear and his daughter Cordelia is evident. In addition to the... ... middle of paper ... ...o reconnect to Edgar and apologise, while the same can be seen through Edgar caring for Gloucester even after everything. Through this the ability family relationships have to hold families together is visible and portrayed. The parent-child relationships explored in King Lear are parallel. It is seen that both Lear and Gloucester deal with situations in which they do not think rationally causing the children they have built relationships with and the children who have a true love for their father being disowned or betrayed. It is seen that through the false words of the children they love less is the cause of their downfall and ultimately the breakdown of the family relationships. Throughout King Lear there are many aspects which highlight the way family relationships hold each other apart but also how the love of some family relationships hold each other together.

In this essay, the author

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Family Relationships In King Lear

king lear family relationships essay

Show More One theme that is consistent in all of Shakespeare’s plays is that of family dynamics. King Lear is a tragedy that accounts for the loyalties and betrayals between multiple characters within a single family. The relationship between Lear and his three daughters, as well as the daughter’s relationships to each other are analyzed. In King Lear the responsibilities of parent to child, child to parent, and sister to sister are scrutinized. Shakespeare’s play questions the obligations and duties that family members hold for each other. Familial bonds are tangible ideas that modern day readers would have experience with and gravitate toward. Contemporary audiences would be able to identify with the trials of familial responsibilities that Shakespeare …show more content… They lie about their love for their father to gain land and authority. When Goneril and Regan are asked to describe their love for Lear they make outrageous responses like loving him more than “eyesight, space, and liberty” (1.1.55) and are “enemy to all other joys” (1.1.72) but his happiness. The older daughters have planned to degrade their father in his old age; from Act 1, scene 1 the audience knows they plan to “strike while the irons hot,” to set their cunning plans into motion. However, Lear also does not seem to be the most nurturing of paternal figures either, and at times he curses his daughters very intensely. In Act 1, scene 4 Lear prays that Goneril is sterile or has monstrous a child, and in act 2, scene 4 her hope lighting will blind her and “infect her beauty” (155). The relationship between Lear, Goneril and Regan is callous at best. There is little consideration for each other’s thoughts or feelings. The way they treat each other is as far away from familial as possible. Audiences can identify with, or disassociate from, the relationships shown between Lear’s family. Everyone has family that they don’t get along with; and while Lear is an extremely harsh example of family dynamics, readers still are attracted to the horror of their bonds, and care about what happens to their …show more content… They are the people who you are supposed to depend on. Your parents, siblings, husbands, or wives- they are the ones who support you, protect you, love you, and who you in turn love, support and protect. Therefore the family dynamics in King Lear are heartbreaking. They are so skewed, so damaged by pride and jealousy and that Lear and his daughters end up more like enemies than a functioning family. Their dynamics literally kill each other. There are pieces of their relationship that everyone can relate to, a favored younger sibling , mean older siblings, aging parents, and a crazy uncle. However, there are also pieces of their relationship that shock readers. How can these people call themselves a family? Who could treat members of their family like

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king lear family relationships essay

William Shakespeare

Critical Essays Parent-Child Relationships : The Neglect of Natural Law

At the heart of King Lear lies the relationship between father and child. Central to this filial theme is the conflict between man's law and nature's law. Natural law is synonymous with the moral authority usually associated with divine justice. Those who adhere to the tenets of natural law are those characters in the text who act instinctively for the common good — Kent, Albany, Edgar, and Cordelia.

Eventually, Gloucester and Lear learn the importance of natural law when they recognize that they have violated these basic tenets, with both finally turning to nature to find answers for why their children have betrayed them. Their counterparts, Edmund, Goneril, Regan, and Cornwall, represent the evil that functions in violation of natural law. All four conspirators are without conscience and lack recognition of higher moral authority, since they never consider divine justice as they plot their evil. Their law is man-made, and it focuses on the individual, not the good of the community. Tragedy unfolds as two carefully interwoven and parallel stories explore the abandonment of natural order and the unnatural betrayal of parent and child.

In the primary plot, Lear betrays his youngest daughter and is betrayed by his two oldest daughters. In almost identical fashion, the subplot reveals another father, Gloucester, who betrays his older legitimate son and who is betrayed by his younger illegitimate son. In both cases, the natural filial relationship between father and children is destroyed through a lack of awareness, a renunciation of basic fairness and natural order, and hasty judgment based on emotions. By the play's end, the abandonment of natural order leaves the stage littered with the dead bodies of fathers and their children.

In the opening act, Lear creates a love test to justify giving Cordelia a larger share of his kingdom. Although his kingdom should be divided equally, Lear clearly loves Cordelia more and wants to give her the largest, choice section of his wealth. In return, Lear expects excessive flattery and gushing confessions of love. But instead, Cordelia's reply is tempered, honest, and reasonable — custom dictates that she share her love between her husband and her father.

Just as soon as Cordelia fails to meet her father's expectations, Lear disinherits her. At Cordelia's loss, Goneril and Regan are quick to take advantage. They may have genuinely loved their father at one time, but they now seem tired of having been passed over in favor of their younger sister. After Lear states his obvious preference for Cordelia, the older sisters feel free to seek their revenge, turning the family's natural order on its ear. At the same time, Lear fails to see the strength and justice in natural law, and disinherits his youngest child, thus setting in motion the disaster that follows. Lear puts in place a competition between sisters that will carry them to their graves.

In a similar father-child relationship, the opening scene of King Lear positions Gloucester as a thoughtless parent. The audience's introduction to this second father has him speaking of Edmund's birth in a derogatory manner. Although Gloucester says that he loves both Edmund and Edgar equally, society does not regard the two as equal — and neither does Gloucester, whose love is limited to words and not actions of equality. According to nature's law, Edmund is as much Gloucester's son as Edgar is; but according to man's law of primogeniture, Edmund is not recognized as Gloucester's heir.

In one of the initial pieces of information offered about Edmund, Gloucester tells Kent that Edmund has been away seeking his fortune, but he has now returned. Under English law, Edmund has no fortune at home, nor any entitlement. Edmund's return in search of family fortune provides the first hint that he will seize what English laws will not give him. Clearly, Edmund's actions are a result of his father's preference — both legal and filial — for Edgar, his older and legitimate son. This favoritism leads to Edmund's plan to destroy his father in an attempt to gain legitimacy and Gloucester's estate. Again, the natural order of family is ignored.

Gloucester rejects natural law and a parent's love for his child when he is easily convinced that Edgar — the son he claims to love so much — has betrayed him. Gloucester also puts his faith in Edmund's command of persuasive language, when he rejects the love his eldest son has always shown him. With this move, the earl demonstrates that he can be swayed by eloquence, a man-made construct for easy persuasion, which causes him to reject natural law and the bond between father and child.

Edmund both ignores and embraces natural law. By betraying his father to Cornwall and Regan, Edmund's self-serving course of action abandons nature's order and instead foreshadows the neo-Darwinist argument for survival of the strongest individual. His ability to survive and win is not based on competitive strategies or healthy family relationships; instead, Edmund will take what he desires by deceiving those who trust and love him.

Edmund's greed favors natural law over man's law because natural law doesn't care that Edmund is illegitimate. He claims nature as his ally because he is a "natural" offspring, and because man's law neglects to recognize his rights of inheritance. But, nature only serves Edmund as a convenient excuse for his actions. His actions against his brother and father are more a facet of greed than any reliance on natural law.

One might argue that Gloucester's cavalier attitude toward Edmund's conception mitigates Edmund's actions. When combining this possibility with Edmund's final scene, in which he tries to save Cordelia and Lear, Edmund clearly shows himself to be of different fabric than Goneril, Regan, and Cornwall. In many ways, Gloucester is responsible for what Edmund becomes. Edmund is as much Gloucester's son as is Edgar. In embracing the man-made laws that reject Edmund's legal rights, Gloucester is denying natural laws that would make Edmund and Edgar equal.

Gloucester also acts against nature in rejecting Edgar without sufficient proof of his wrongdoing; thus Gloucester shares responsibility for the actions that follow, just as Lear's love test results in his rejection of Cordelia. Both men are easily fooled and consequently, they both reject natural law and their children. Both act without deliberation, with hasty responses that ultimately betray their descendants.

At the play's conclusion, Goneril and Regan's abandonment of natural order and their subscription to evil has finally destroyed them. The audience learns early in the final scene that Goneril has poisoned Regan and killed herself. Their deaths are a result of unnatural competition, both for power and for love. But Lear is the one who set in motion the need to establish strength through competition, when he pitted sister against sister in the love test.

For the audience, the generational conflict between parent and child is an expected part of life. We grow impatient with our parents and they with us. We attempt to control our children, and they rebel. When Goneril complains that Lear and his men are disruptive and out of control, we can empathize — recognizing that our own parent's visits can extend too long or that our children's friends can be quite noisy. Shakespeare's examination of natural order is central to our own lives, and that is one of the enduring qualities of King Lear .

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king lear family relationships essay

The Importance Of Families In King Lear

Romeo and juliet conflict quotes.

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King Lear In The Crucible And The Handmaid's Tale

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Romeo And Juliet Who's To Blame Essay

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Strengths And Weaknesses Of Lady Macbeth

Those who are weak often manipulate others to do the things they cannot. Shakespeare's Tragedy of Macbeth describes two characters’ desire for power, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Throughout the play, Lady Macbeth displays many facets to her personality. She is such a diverse and complicated character that it is hard to know if she is truly evil or weak. However, no matter how strong and evil Lady Macbeth appears to be to others, her weakness is clearly apparent when she is alone.

Nature And Culture In Shakespeare's King Lear

Shakespeare makes King Lear, a natural figure to show the hypocrisy. The connection between King Lear and Cordelia is an analogy for the relationship of nature and culture. It seems that King Lear believed in culture instead of nature, he could not understand his youngest, nicest and the most loving daughter Cordelia only because she had no words to

King Lear's Character Growth

Shakespeare’s King Lear is a complex play that complicates morality with foolishness, as well as associates madness with wisdom. It is about political authority as much as it is about family dynamics. William Shakespeare, known for his clever wordplay, wrote this play so that King Lear 's wisest characters are depicted as making foolish decisions. Lear, the King of Britain, is an authoritative and important man. As he gets closer to retiring, he realizes that he needs to pass his kingdom over to the next generation. He proceeds to ignore the natural order of family legacy by deciding to divide his kingdom between his three daughters before his death. He wants

Juxtaposition In King Lear

It is only an inference that Edmund would not have been happy with Edgar’s status and would then want his father’s. Edmund had to first convey his dedication to his father in order to usurp him. That is where his plan with Edgar comes into play. The reader is made aware that Gloucester has fallen for Edmund’s schemes when he is exclaims “where is the villain Edmund” (II.i, 37). Edmund, like a snake, is able to trick his father into believing that he is the ‘good’ son pinning all the blame on Edgar. To Gloucester, he only has one son and heir, Edmund. This is when Edmund’s truly villainous betrayal comes to light. Gloucester discovers, in one of the worst ways possible, his son’s betrayal when he has just had his eyes torn out. He cries out “Where is my son Edmund? / Edmund…” and Regan answers with “Thou call’st on him that he hates thee. It was he / that made the overture of thy treasons to us” (III.vii, 86-90). Gloucester is calling out to his ‘last’ family member only to learn that he has been betrayed by Edmund. In a sense, Gloucester is alone in the world. He believes that his legitimate son has betrayed him and now has his illegitimate son. His family has betrayed him and now he is utterly alone. Gloucester is an old man with both his heirs as traitors it is a heinous injustice that Edmund has done to his family. With the estrange, due to Edmund’s schemes, Edgar and a traitor

I Am A Man More Sinned Against Than Sinning Analysis

Lear’s character is highly flawed and has undoubtedly acted unjust while having a shallow view on relationships and how they should be. Lear can be viewed as a stubborn old man whose mind cannot be changed easily. It is a striking event how he treats his alleged favourite daughter and how easily he believes the lies he is being fed.

Rashness In King Lear

Early on in the Shakespearean play, King Lear makes the decision to refuse giving Cordelia a portion of the kingdom and disowns her as she does not falsely amplify her love to her father the way her sisters had. The decision is rash and even Lear’s servant Kent tries to tell Lear that he is not thinking on this decision clearly. Lear stubbornly keeps his word even though he admitted that Cordelia was his favorite and that he planned to spend his old age with her. The question as to why Lear did not swallow his pride despite his regret and hands the kingdom over to Cordelia’s two sisters and their husbands. Anyone in a position of power similar to Lear’s would likely have an ego problem, this being one of the reasons he did not go back on his word. A king cannot back down, especially from a little girl despite whether or not she is his own daughter. In a way, this was meant to save face for King Lear and keep his reputation. Regan and Goneril discuss the issue as well, referring to Lear as “senile” and that his old age was surely the reason for his poor decision making and rashness. The possibility that Lear does not understand actual

Patriarchal Society In King Lear

King Lear is about political authority as much as it is about the power of family and its’ dynamics. Lear is not only a father but also a king, and when he gives away his authority to the unworthy and evil Goneril and Regan, he gives not only himself and his family but all the people of Britain into cruelty and chaos. As the two wicked sisters satiate their demand for power and Edmund begins his own rising, the kingdom collapses into civil clash, and we realize that Lear has destroyed not only his own authority but all authority in Britain. The reliable, hierarchal order that Lear initially represents falls apart and disorder consumes the dimension. The failure of authority in the face of chaos recurs in Lear’s excursions on the heath during the storm. Witnessing the powerful forces of the natural world, Lear comes to understand that he, like the rest of humanity, is irrelevant in the world. This realization proves much more important than the realization of his loss of political control, as it enforces him to set up his values and become gentle and caring. With this newfound understanding of himself, Lear hopes to be able to accost the chaos in the political realm as well. King Lear is a symbol of a strong man, who has a Reason that counts, a powerful King who gives everything and gets nothing. King Lear, we may say that he lost his authority to his daughters, as a father, once he gave them

The Tragic Hero In Shakespeare's King Lear

Practice can make things perfect, but it is the passion that persuades them. In King Lear, Lear’s first phase of development is about his wild enthusiasm (passion). First and foremost of the play, Lear enters his castle and begins to discuss the division of Britain between his daughters: Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia. Lear says that he will handover his throne, but whoever expresses greater amount of their affection shall get the largest bounty; “Which of you shall we say doth love us most?” (1.1.52). While Goneril and Regan succeed in their flattery; Lear’s energetic love is destroyed in light of the fact that Cordelia did not exaggerate her love towards her father. This outcomes in King Lear abandoning and banishing Cordelia. Close to

Tragic Flaw In King Lear

King Lear is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare. It depicts the gradual descent into madness of the title character, after he disposes of his kingdom giving bequests to two of his three daughters based on their flattery of him, bringing tragic consequences for all.King Lear is a tragic hero. He behaves rashly and irresponsibly at the start of the play. He is blind and unfair as a father and as a ruler. He desires all the trappings of power without the responsibility which is why the passive and forgiving Cordelia is the perfect choice for a successor. ( Foster Edward E.)

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Greed And Pain As The Main Factors Of A Parent-Child Relationship In King Lear

King Lear is a play written by William Shakespeare, dating back to Elizabethan times. This play follows the stories of two royal families and the dysfunction within it. The parents and children from the families all possess qualities and attributes that prove them to be inhumane. As much as we do not see it, children exhibit some of our greatest traits and show remarkable a resemblance to ourselves, but in many cases, they portray the negative traits too. Both of them show to be responsible for destroying the structures of their families and ruining what was once whole. However, who is more responsible for these breakdowns? It is clear when reading the play that the children are more at fault than the parents. Firstly, one must consider the greed portrayed by the parents and children. Secondly, one must consider the pain caused by parents and children. By appropriating these two criteria, children clearly are more at fault for the family breakdowns in the play.

To begin, focusing specifically on the children, the greed portrayed has a negative impact on the structure of the family. (Edmund in brothers shadow) “Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land. Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund As to the legitimate.—Fine word, “legitimate” legitimate. I grow, I prosper. Now, gods, stand up for bastards!” (1.2.16-22). This quote proves Edgar’s true goal is to rise, willing to go against defying all odds, specifically the unspoken law of respect. This led to Edmund’s family to fall apart because of his greed for power, he was the main factor of his own innocent brother running away leading up to problems later in the play and betraying his own father. Betrayal is also shown in a sense of greed for love seen when Goneril and Regan both desire Edmund unknowing that they both admire the bastard. Regan because of her separation seeks Edmunds love, Goneril notices this and poisons her sister in jealousy, Regan responds “My sickness grows upon me.” (5.3.114), after she had been knowingly poisoned. This leads to Goneril’s death by suicide because of the unthinkable actions she had committed “Your lady, sir, your lady. And her sister By her is poisoned. She confesses it. ” (5.3.239-240). This particular quote depicts how jealousy over one another and betrayal are shown in the children as well as how they instantly turn against each other, thinking about themselves.

king lear family relationships essay

On the contrary, by turning the tables and looking at the greed portrayed by the parents, It can be seen that they also immensely at fault for the family breakdowns. Greed is very evident in the parents especially King Lear. The once ruler and the 100 knights that he didn’t treat well alongside his growingly odd requests as well as generally making a mess, lead a confrontation between Lear and Goneril who had asked her father to reduce the number of knights accompanying him. This response surprised Lear and sparked a fight between the two saying “Darkness and devils! Saddle my horses. Call my train together.— Degenerate bastard, I’ll not trouble thee. Yet have I left a daughter.” (1.4.240-243) Lear is clearly angry and very greedy at something he doesn’t even require as he lives in a castle with more than enough people to take care of him but his greed overtakes him as he still wants to be acknowledged as the King, taking offence when he is not recognized as such. “My lady’s father”. “My lady’s father? My lord’s knave, your whoreson dog! You slave, you cur!” Eventually, after an altercation with Oswald, Lear goes onto living in Regan’s castle, having the same issues reoccur until the point in which he just gave up. These quotes are evident to the play as they show how Lear is incapable of taking the hard truth that he no longer rules the kingdom and has no power in respect to his daughters. Lear’s greed for power shows to be an exponential factor in the breakdown of his family, as he drove his daughters away and drove himself into an unstable mental state.

It is clearly evident that both the children and parents both showed acts of greed in the play, the responsibility of it all is seen to be labelled as the children’s overall fault. This is due to the destruction each has caused by their solely independent intentions. For example, Edmund who had one goal which was to rise to the top and push anyone out of his way no matter the cost or who they may be, even family which ended up becoming very destructive. Although Edmund was not the only one with bad intentions, as stated before, both Goneril and Regan had followed in Edmunds tracks willing to kill anyone, even each other to achieve their own personal goals, for their own personal, greedy selves. The children in the play fend for themselves and don’t consider what it may cost them to achieve such gains like the loss of their family and their own humanity. Building off the children’s intentions to hurt each other to get what they want, it is evident that this was clearly not the case with the parents as they had no reason to cause tension within the family or harm anyone. Lear, for example, gave away his kingdom in what he believed was an act of kindness that really did not end up going as he hoped it would. Although some may not agree with his actions, his intentions were pure as he simply wanted to retire and pass on his role to people whom he believed he trusted and did not intend on banishing anyone or ever reverting his decision. The children did not think ahead much either but also caused immense destruction in everyone’s lives causing murders, torture and the break up of their family. The idea of who caused the most physical and mental pain between the two should really be considered as well. The children cause physical pain to the parents in many specifically Edmund when he turned his own father into Cornwall for assisting Lear which led to unimaginable consequences to his father, losing his eyes while Edmund bared to watch. “All dark and comfortless. Where’s my son Edmund? Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature To quit this horrid act” (3.7.89-91). His actions also caused his father emotional pain which broke the family structure even more alongside the phycological pain they all caused Lear which led him to become a whole different person and do things that will change his and the peoples live around him completely and permanently.

In conclusion, it is evident that for the majority of the play the children are more at fault than their parents for the breakdown in family structures, taking into deep consideration both the physical and mental pain they caused. While the children may have learned some of their flaws and traits from their parents, they are seen to have acted on it more and are truly the ones at fault. Their negative actions and inhumane attributes are ultimately responsible for destroying the structures of their families and ruining what was once whole.

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King Lear: Family Relationships, Human Nature and Its Failings

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“I love your majesty according to my bond; no more nor less” (I. i. 94-95). Good morning teachers and HSC students. King Lear, a timeless story of family relationships, human nature and its failings. But what makes this play “timeless”? The fact that it contains universal themes of love, jealousy and family relationships makes it applicable to modern times even though it was written for a 16thcentury audience.

Two critics that have commented on the thematic concerns of family relationships and human nature are Maggie Tomlinson in “A violent world” and Jim Young in “Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind”, both of which I’ll be discussing, today in detail.

The concept of family relationships is a prevalent theme that can be viewed on many levels, such as the deterioration, renewal and the nature of familial bonds. There are many family relationships in the plot of King Lear, with the two major ones relating to the sub plot of Gloucester and the main plot of Lear.

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In both these relationships, betrayal is the major factor that contributes to the deterioration of the kinship. In Gloucester’s case, through the simple act of humiliating Edmund, where Gloucester says in his presence “There was good sport at his making and the whoreson must be acknowledged” (1. 1. 21-24), he created a rift in the relationship. Maggie Tomlinson brings up a rather significant point when she comments on the nature of the relationship and the trust that is abused.

She states “The evidence is simply not the sort of thing any one let alone a father would believe in” This illustrates the trust that is built in these types of relationships and the ability of it to be exploited.

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Family relationships are also seen between the daughters and King Lear. Shakespeare cleverly investigates the nature of relationships through Lear’s test to see who loves him the most.

Goneril and Regan are portrayed as manipulative people with the gift of words and courtly manners, but it can be noted that Cordelia also loves her father but cannot express it where she says “I am sure my love’s more ponderous than my tongue” (I. i. 76-78). With the absence of a maternal figure, one could question how much Lear love’s, let alone, knows about his daughter. The fact that he banishes Cordelia, when she cannot express her love, shows the little knowledge he has of her weaknesses and strengths or the state of his mind. After surrendering his power, Lear demands love from his daughters Goneril and Regan, but does not receive, so he begins to plead.

Jim Young comments on this deteriorating relationship, where Lear’s perspective is that his daughters owe him love because of the material gifts he has given them ”Thy half of the kingdom thou hast not forget, where in I thee endowed” ( II. iv. 177-181). This emphasises the obligations of the forced relationship instead of its natural occurrence. Another aspect that is deeply investigated in King Lear is human nature and its failings. To define human nature it is the attributes of humankind that are assumed to be shared by all human beings, making it a timeless theme.

To be human is to fault and to learn from one’s mistakes. Temptation is a core aspect that causes these faults and is part of human nature. Throughout the play, temptation can be seen especially through that of Lear. Its human nature to feel love but one of Lear’s flaws is his pride, he wants to be praised, hear how much he is loved. But this flaw in his nature of temptation causes his downfall and the loss of his sanity. In his confusion, he becomes metaphorically blind. It is only during the storm that he receives his own test, where things might change or cease.

It is in this storm that he goes back to nature as a primal being, where the only thing that distinguished him from an animal, was stripped , that is the ability to think and reason. Here, he is stripped of all clothes, and hence dignity presenting the failing of ones nature. Young goes on to say that Lear only becomes sane because of those around him especially the Fool. The Fool stands by with Lear and shares his in sufferings but is specific about one point: “Never give your power to anyone”.

It is human nature to want power and respect, and when Lear gives it away, as seen through the losing of his knights, he himself becomes a fool. Lastly, Shakespeare also investigates human nature’s connection to redemption in Edmond. Edmond seeks redemption before he dies, where death is the redemptive justice. Knowing that he was not to live, he tried to change his evil nature by notifying others to go and save Cordelia from his murderous messenger, but as Maggie Tomlinson said, Shakespeare cleverly incorporates the attempts of a person to change their nature.

Here, Edmond fails and is responsible for Cordelia’s death. Tomlinson brings up the question if whether this shows that we can attempt to change, but it is our human nature to be conservative and not dwell into unfamiliar territory, and hence Edmond tries to do good by saving Cordelia but only fails. King Lear will continue to remain a timeless story, and enlighten audiences about family relationships and human nature, for years to come. One could only wonder if those in Shakespeare’s time appreciated the play, the amount it is appreciated now. Thank you.

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King Lear: Family Relationships, Human Nature and Its Failings

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An Analysis of Family Relationships in the Tragedy King Lear by William Shakespeare

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Essay On Father/Daughter Relationships In King Lear

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Daughter , Love , Parents , Actions , Family , Father , Relationships , Women

Words: 2500

Published: 01/20/2020


In William Shakespeare’s play King Lear, the relationships between King Lear and his three daughters play a critical role in the events of the play. Lear has dysfunctional relationships with all three of his daughters, resulting primarily from his overbearing demands that they should love only him. Through the end of Act 4, the relationships with his two older daughters deteriorate, and for much of the play Lear is estranged from his youngest daughter. Although Shakespeare demonizes the two older daughters to a large extent, the text itself suggests that Lear is primarily responsible for the dysfunctional nature of the father/daughter relationships in the play. The way Lear’s two older daughters treat him mirrors Lear’s own treatment of them. Ultimately, Lear fails to treat his daughters well, and then goes mad when they do not treat him well in return. The nature of those relationships is established in the first act of the play. Lear announces that he wishes to relinquish his duties and holdings as king because he is old and nearing death. He has summoned his daughters and then explains that he will divide his kingdom among the three daughters, but the daughter who convinces him that she loves him the most will receive the largest part of the kingdom. Even before the first daughter responds, it is evident that Lear does not treat his daughters equally, or he would not have made this announcement. He is not basing his decision on birth order, as he presumably would if he had sons. He is not basing his decision on the leadership merits of one daughter versus the other two daughters. He is essentially basing his decision on which daughter will do the best job of telling him what he wants to hear. Lear’s announcement sets the tone for the rest of the play, in addition to raising some questions about him as a paternal figure. Simply put, what kind of father plays his children against each other, letting them know he will reward the one who is most convincing instead of either dividing the kingdom equally or rewarding the one who is most deserving? By issuing a challenge to his daughters to compete this way, he lays the groundwork for them to quarrel among themselves and turn on each other, as well as to resent him for putting them in this position. Nothing in the text indicates that Lear has been a good father. He perhaps has been a good ruler, but without any other evidence of what he was like as a father, the initial impression he makes is of an emotionally needy and demanding parent who plays favorites with his children. Lear commands the oldest daughter, Goneril to speak first and she responds: “As much as child e'er loved, or father found;/ A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;/Beyond all manner of so much I love you” (1.1. 55-57). Lear responds by establishing the boundaries of the part of his kingdom Goneril will receive. He then challenges Regan, to whom he refers as his “dearest,” again indicating some favoritism. Regan raises the stakes a bit, by indicating that her love for him is the only thing that bring her happiness; she says, “And find I am alone felicitate/In your dear highness' love” (1.1.73-74). In Lear’s comments to Regan, he has mentioned that she is married. Given her response, a psychologically well-adjusted parent would ask her if something is wrong with her marriage, if the only thing that makes her happy is the love she has for her father, or if there is some quarrel between her and her sisters, since she apparently takes no pleasure in her affection for them. Yet Lear does not find anything disturbing about Regan’s remarks; instead, he indicates that her share of the kingdom will match Goneril’s share in size and value. Lear at this point addresses the youngest daughter, Cordelia, and challenges her to state her love for him in a way that will convince him to give her a larger share than her sisters have thus far received. When Cordelia responds that there is nothing she can say to convince him to do so, Lear is taken aback. When he asks her to reconsider her words, she responds that she loves him the same way he loves her but that when she eventually marries, she hopes to love her husband in addition to loving her father. Her statement is extremely reasonable, and reflects a well-balanced personality. However, Lear responds to her statement as if he is insane; as Skura notes, “Lear's childish self-centeredness smothers Cordelia; her youthful declaration of independence tears him apart and drives him mad” (122). Lear states, “Here I disclaim all my paternal care,/Propinquity and property of blood,/And as a stranger to my heart and me/Hold thee, from this, for ever” (1.1.114-117). Because Cordelia is unwilling to make a grandiose statement that she loves only her father, Lear disinherits her and tells her she means no more to him than a stranger would. As the scene goes on, when Kent tries to get Lear to be reasonable, Lear rejects the interruption and then claims that Cordelia was the daughter he had previously loved the most. He makes this statement while all three of the daughters are still present, not hesitating at all to show the type of favoritism that would naturally create bad feelings among the three daughters. One does not need to be a mental health expert to know that a parent stating in public he loves one child more than the others is bad parenting. After Lear dismisses Goneril and Regan and then discusses marriage to Cordelia with her two suitors, he also says that it would have been better if Cordelia had never been born than for her to have displeased him. At this juncture, Lear has made it abundantly clear that his so-called love for his daughters depends entirely on them stroking his ego and never doing anything that might displease him. Lear’s character is further revealed when Goneril and Regan discuss the situation privately. Goneril comments that Lear’s age is affecting his judgment, evidenced by his banishment of Cordelia, who was known to both Goneril and Regan to be the daughter he most loved. Regan responds by noting that while old age has increased his lack of judgment, their father has never known himself well, presumably meaning that he thinks of himself one way while acting another way. According to them, at his best he exhibited rash judgment and with the diminished cognitive functions that old age often brings, he will bring them additional problems. Their words foreshadow what occurs during the rest of the play. The calm way in which Goneril and Regan assess his character and actions indicates that they have no delusions about Lear as a father or a ruler. Goneril, in particular, seems to be very aware of the havoc their father can cause and how quickly his allegiances and love can shift; as described by Taylor, “To the extent an eldest child is aware of the perquisites of her birth position being allowed to speak first, for instance, when Lear solicited declarations of love she might well be aware, also, of the fragility of these perquisites, of how they might be passed along to the next in line if she, the eldest, does not behave properly” (33). As Goneril and Regan had predicted, Lear creates problems wherever he goes. The next the audience hears of Lear’s interactions with his daughters, Goneril is asking her servant if her father struck him because he criticized one of her father’s men. The 100 knights her father insisted on retaining as his personal retinue have been unruly and Lear complains and criticizes every time he opens his mouth. Goneril tells her servant she does not want to speak to her father. Lear has evidently made himself so unpleasant at his daughter’s home that she wants to avoid him. Again, this speaks to the nature of their relationship. Lear is hypercritical of Goneril, the same way he had been hypercritical of Cordelia previously. Goneril notes that despite Lear having relinquished his authority as king and having given ruling authority to her and Regan, he still wants to retain power when he wants it. From Goneril’s comments, Lear has behaved badly in her household and has not kept his word. She cannot rely on him to have good judgment, to behave reasonably, or to keep his promises. When Lear insists on speaking to Goneril, even though she had left word she was ill, she attempts to make him see reason. She describes to him how his “insolent retinue/Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth/In rank and not-to-be endured riots” and that their actions make her palace seem like “a tavern or brothel” (1.4). She insists that he reduce the number of knights he has. Although the actions of Goneril seem reasonable so far, from the comments that other characters make, such as the fool, Shakespeare obviously intends the audience to feel that Goneril and Regan are evil, unloving daughters who are exploiting their father. And yet, what is evil or unloving about Goneril not wanting to have 100 ill-behaved, armed knights hanging around her home, that she must house and feed? What is evil or unloving about wanting her father not to complain or criticize every action she takes? What is evil or unloving about wanting her father to keep his word that she and her husband now have ruling authority over their part of the kingdom? Lear condemns himself as a parent through his own words. After he argues with Goneril, he expresses to her husband: “Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend/To make this creature fruitful!/Into her womb convey sterility!” (1.4). As far as the audience knows, the first time that Goneril does not accede to her father’s wishes and instead conveys her displeasure at the actions of his retinue, he reacts with hatred and scorn, wishing her to be infertile. After Lear leaves, Goneril expresses to her husband her fear of what the knights could do, with blind obedience to her father whose whims change from moment to moment. She expresses fear for her life and that of her husband, which speaks volumes about the relationship she has with her father. She does not trust him based on his constantly shifting alliances, irrational actions, and vitriolic statements about her. During the subsequent acts of the play, Lear leaves Goneril’s household and goes to Regan’s household, where he expects nothing but sympathy for the way he has been treated. On his part, this seems like a deliberate attempt to create tension between the two sisters; he is trying to play Regan against Goneril. Lear is shocked that Regan does not plan to treat him any differently than Goneril did; this surprise confirms his total obliviousness to how his daughters actually feel about him. If they do not in fact love him, one can hardly blame them. If Lear’s actions in the play itself are any indication of his actions in the past, he has never given them any sort of unconditional love; he has not so much wanted family as sycophants. Acts 2 through 4 contain scenes intended to portray Goneril and Regan as scheming, because both of them side with Edmund in his plot against his father, and in addition, they conspire to kill Lear himself while also conspiring against each other. Although wanting their father to be dead seems extreme, it is entirely understandable given his actions in the play. Their father has shown himself not to love them truly but to love them only so long as they flatter him and do as he wishes; it is hardly surprising that once he becomes vindictive toward them, they respond with equal or greater vindictiveness. Cordelia, on the other hand, is presented as the daughter who loves Lear unconditionally. She is sorrowful when she hears of what has transpired with Lear and persuades her husband to send his forces to defend Lear. In turn, Lear is embarrassed by his former behavior and ultimately declares his love for Cordelia. In the context of their previous interactions, this switch reinforces just how dysfunctional the relationships are between Lear and his daughters. Lear decides he loves Cordelia only when he is displeased with his other daughters. He does not love Cordelia in and of herself; he loves her because she is not either of her sisters. He loves her because she is willing to wage war against her sisters to support him. Overall, the father/daughter relationships presented in King Lear appear to be toxic. Lear treats his daughters as objects, whose primary function should be to adore him absolutely while he is free to dispense and withhold love based on his mood of the moment. Although Lear tries to repair his relationship with Cordelia, he does so in a way that will result in additional tragedy and death. Essentially he shuffles from one daughter to another, looking for the one who will stroke his ego the most. Based on the internal evidence in the play, Lear is an abysmal parent who ultimately destroys any positive aspects of his relationships with two of his daughters and whose demand for unconditional love leads his third daughter to risk her life and kingdom for him. Again, while Shakespeare obviously intended the audience to perceive Goneril and Regan as evil, much of the text suggests that Lear did not deserve any better treatment from them than what he received. If he had been a better father, perhaps all three daughters would have treated him well. As the play stands, it is hard to feel much sympathy for Lear and relatively easy to feel that he is at best a mentally unhinged ruler whose relatives needed to take over ruling for him, and at worst a self-centered tyrant who gets what he deserves. The normal father/daughter relationship that should consist of love has been subverted into relationships that are not rewarding for the daughters. McCoy described how Lear shows that so-called “bonds of love can become a form of bondage and oppression” (46). In the father/daughter relationships in King Lear, the bonds of love turn to bonds of hatred and aggression.

Works Cited

McCoy, Richard C. ""Look upon Me, Sir": Relationships in King Lear." Representations.81 (2003): 46-60. Web. 12 Jan. 2013. Shakespeare, William. King Lear. New York: Digireads Publishing, 2011. Kindle Edition. Skura, Meredith. "Dragon Fathers and Unnatural Children: Warring Generations in King Lear and its Sources." Comparative Drama 42.2 (2008): 121-48. Web. 12 Jan. 2013. Taylor, Mark. "Birth Order of Children in King Lear." The Upstart Crow 23 (2003): 31-8.. Web. 12 Jan. 2013.

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