King Lear and conflict with his daughters

1556 Words Feb 2nd, 2004 7 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 …show more content…
This is what she meant when she utters the word "nothing." She has nothing to say that will flatter the king because she is honest. She is not like her sisters who would do anything to get what they want. After he does this, he continues to badger and ridicule her for her lack of affection and love for him. He does this to anyone who does not put him on the pedestal that he feels that he rightfully deserves to be on.

One must note that during this time, women were supposed to be subordinate and obedient to men, Codelia's position here is a precarious one, and one that must be backed by firm belief, as she still will not give in to Lear after his threats, which shows us from the very start that she is an extremely strong-willed and determined young woman. The mere existence of this incredibly foolish "game" illustrates to us Lear's overwhelming insecurities about his relationship with his three daughters. Cordelia's refusal angers him, painting a picture of (not for the last time) Lear's poor capacity for dealing with relationships, father-daughter or otherwise.

The other parent child relationship gone wrong in this play is that of Edmund and his father. He is the bastard-son of Gloucester and wants everything that Edgar, the legitimate son, has. In the beginning of Act 2 he draws his sword on Edgar and tells him to pretend like he is protecting himself because he hears Gloucester coming. Edmund says:

I hear my father
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