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King Lear

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CLAIM: Acts of betrayal are oftentimes committed by malicious characters, yet in King Lear, Shakespeare presents a harmless character who commits an act that ultimately tears a family apart. This act of betrayal involves children and their father, which corrupts any strong family relationship that they might have had.

When King Lear decides to give his kingdom to two of his daughters, Regan and Goneril, the girls betray him by disrespecting his morals as well as by deceiving him. This act ultimately contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole, because a family is split apart and chaos erupts progressively throughout the text.

Selfish motives lead Goneril and Regan, the daughters of Lear, to go against their father's wishes; since they desire to be in the spotlight, and to gain power over other characters in the text, they go behind their father's back in order to do so. When Lear decides to bequeath his kingdom to his daughters, he feels as though they will respect the ways in which he ran the kingdom himself. Lear believes that because Regan and Goneril love him, "more than words can wield the matter, dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty, beyond what can be valued, rich or rare, no less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor; as much as child e'er loved, or father found" (I.i.60-65), that they will be faithful to their word when they say they will keep the kingdom in order. Yet, when Lear exits the stage, the girls proceed to converse about their hatred for him. "You see how full of changes his age is. The observation we have made of it hath not been little. He always loved our sister most, and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off appears too grossly."(I.i.334-338) As the girls had planned all along, Goneril and Regan's betrayal of their father raised them to power in Britain. Lear's daughters inevitably deceive him, go against his wishes, and selfishly tear him down in order to rise up in power.

The story of King Lear involves a series of unfortunate events, all of which are provoked by betrayals of some sort. Evidently, the act in which Goneril and Regan betray their father is the most prominent in this text, because an entire family is torn apart as a result of this betrayal. Lear's daughters' betrayal of him is conspicuous in this text because it involves the relationship between children and their father. This act of betrayal, because it involves members of an immediate family, has the most negative effect on the work as a whole.

The nature of the betrayal exemplified by Regan and Goneril is evil and cunning. King Lear is scathed by his own daughters, which has a negative effect on the entire work. After Lear discovers his daughters are deluding him, he feels as though he has been made a fool of. Lear becomes enraged and embarrassed and



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