What bad daughters!

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Shakespeare, King Lear Acts 1,2 -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

Goneril:
"By day and night he wrongs me. Every hour
He flashes into one gross crime or other
That sets us all at odds. I'll not endure it.
His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us..."

I could not believe that the daughters were so mean to there father. When Goneril said, "that her father was in the way and his knights are becoming riotous" I was just shocked. I really like Shakespeare's plays and find this one to be very interesting. I can't beleive that the daughters want to overthrow there father in order to gain offical power. Cordelia seems to be the one who really loved Lear because she would not act like her other sisters, but in the end I think that Cordelia should have gotten some of the kingdom instead of dividing it between Goneril and Regan. Overall, I thought that this was an interesting quote from the play and was very interesting for a daughter to say to her father.

5 Comments

I think one of the key things here is that the sisters (Goneril and Reagan) have no respect for their father. They managed to flatter and trick him into giving them all of his wealth, then expected him to disappear into the background. When he continues to do as he pleases, they expect to be able to bully him into submission, but his pride won't allow for that.
One the other hand, which what the sisters did was despicable, I also felt that Lear kind of had it coming to him. I mean, he disowns Cordelia for not flattering him enough and banishes Kent, a loyal servant, for sticking up for her. We tend to forget that Lear wasn't blameless in this either.

Good point, Hallie. As I noted several times while critiquing the short story rough drafts, the events in a plot should unfold in reaction to specific moral choices that the protagonist makes. That doesn't mean that there can never be a coincidence or a random event, but it does mean that the protagonist should respond in character to such events, and that the protagonist's reactions should trigger more events.

It makes a much better story if Lear is not completely blameless. Cordelia, too, could have humored her father a little, without rubbing it in that when she gets married she's going to put her husband first. (I hope I have another 20 years or so to get used to the idea.)

I found it very interesting that Shakespeare made them daughters of the King. There is no actual King coming straight from the blood line and I think that is something special in the story. The rebelious deceitful sisters are surprising but sly when they fool their father into hating only Cordelia who stayed honest.

I thought that was interesting as well, Bethany. I mean, everyone seems to think that in every time period before now (especially in Europe with the corset and such) that women were subjugated and completely submissive to the males in their lives while the men treated them with disdain. Yet here is a father who gives everything he has to his daughters, never once wishing for a son even when they turn against him. The husbands, as well, are almost terrorized by these two sisters(well, Cornwall is, and Albany just goes along with them). I mean, you hate them, yes, but what a pair of spokeswomen for female power!

I, too, was shocked at the corrupt natures of the two daughters, Goneril and Reagan. When I first started reading the play, I thought it somewhat parallelled my own life, or rather my father's life. He, like Lear, has only daughter's and has never once wished for a son. But that's where the similarity ends. My own happy experiences with my sisters contrast heavily with Cordelia's relationship with hers sisters. This contrast between my family and Lear's family simply added to my personal shock while reading the play.

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on April 9, 2007 9:44 PM.

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