King Lear - Comparison between Edmund and Cordelia's Sisters

             In the first two scenes of Act I, the readers are introduced to two families, both with problems to deal with. King Lear’s two older daughters, Regan and Goneril, flatter their father with insincere speeches, while planning an evil scheme to purge their father of his remaining authority. In a rather parallel situation, Edmund forges a letter to perform an act to frame his half-brother Edgar in order to claim the inheritance. It is apparent that there are some analogies comprised of dishonesty and treachery between the Lear’s daughters and Edmund in these two subplots. Yet, there are slight differences in their motives.
             Although Edmund and the Cordelia sisters are very disloyal to their family, they are nevertheless very intelligent characters with great observation and insight into their family members. With this in mind, they are able to take control over their father. The secret discussion between Regan and Goneril reveals their cleverness and observation of King Lear. Regan is able to recognize Lear’s instability as the “infirmity of his age” (I,i,294), and his sudden impulses as his “unconstant starts” (I,i,301). They understand that Lear values the pride of being flattered in public. Thus they are able to receive what Cordelia doesn’t. The same goes with Edmund, who can see the weaknesses in Gloucester and Edgar and describes them as “A credulous father!” (I,ii,176), and “a brother noble, whose nature is so far from doing harms that he suspects none;”(I,ii176), and like the sisters, he takes control of the situation: “I see the business” (I,ii,179).
             The level of dishonesty and insincerity in these characters is very evident in the two families. When Goneril is asked to express her love so that King Lear will give her part of his kingdom, she states her love with complete flattery: “Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter;” (I,i,56), while Regan responds in cooperation with that of G...

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