King Lear - Comparison between Edmund and Cordelia's Sisters

Length: 3 Pages 715 Words

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” Continue...

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They understand that Lear values the pride of being flattered in public. The key characters, Regan, Goneril and Edmund, suggest this parallel for the most part. Although their main motives are to inherit all their fathers' kingdom, Edmund seems to have a more complicated objective than the Lear sisters. Thus they are able to receive what Cordelia doesn't. (I,i,294), and his sudden impulses as his "unconstant starts (I,i,301). In his soliloquy, he expresses his anger towards society because it has prevented him from inheriting Gloucester's kingdom, and furthermore, the words "bastard and "base give the impression that he is worthless: "...the curiosity of nations to deprive me (I,ii,4). For that reason, he wishes to counter that social hierarchy by attempting to climb on top of his legitimate half-brother, Edgar with his scheme. Consequently it enables them to deceive their fathers, and blind them from the truth. These qualities include their cleverness, insight, and the ability to tell lies smoothly. When Edmund states the phrase, "I grow (I,ii,21), he meant that he will hopefully get recognition and respect from society, while "I prosper clearly means he will benefit and gain financially from the inheritance. This way, besides Gloucester's inheritance, Edmund will also get his father's affection. (I,i,70) But their insincerity, and true intentions are made clear when at the end of the scene when they secretly plot to seize they're father's remaining authority, "Pray you let's hit together. If our father carry authority with such disposition as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us (I,I,304). The level of dishonesty and insincerity in these characters is very evident in the two families.