Lies And Manipulation In King Lear

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Throughout William Shakespeare’s tragic play, King Lear, the goal of gaining control over the kingdom and boasting about one’s status drove the characters to deceive each other through the use of lies and manipulation. Right from the start, King Lear demanded that his daughter profess their love for him, causing Regan and Goneril to exaggerate their love all to flatter their father and gain the most of his land. When it was Cordelia’s turn, even though she spoke from her heart about how much her father means to her, her words did not praise her father enough as he insisted she revise her confession. Act 1 Scene 1 started the destruction of the Lear family as Regan and Goneril proved successful in gaining their father’s land by spreading lies…show more content…
The embellishment of the daughter’s love by taking advantage of their father through flattery is the basis for the final quote of the play as Edgar remarks about the consequences of lies and manipulation rather than speaking from the heart. Though Regan and Goneril replied to a dramatic degree of which they love their father, Lear interrogated her by exclaiming, “What can you say to draw a third more opulent than your sisters? Speak” (Lear 1.1.87-88). Filled with power, Lear spoke to his daughters in an arrogant tone as he hinted that his inheritance is related to how much love they profess towards him. In response, Cordelia answers of nothing, beginning a string of repetition of the word “nothing” each with various syntax and punctuation to show the tension building between the father and daughter relationship. In addition, the negative connotation of “nothing” repeated several times and the breakdown of the language foreshadows a breakdown of the family. As she reasons about her answer, Cordelia also expresses her compassion towards her father through a hyperbole by stating, “Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth” (Lear 1.1.93-94). Justifying her response, Cordelia expresses that her love towards him cannot be properly expressed as she contrasts how he has “begot [her], fed [her], loved [her]” and in return she “obeyed [him], loved [him], and most honored [him]” to show that she loves her fathers as much as their relationship requires (Lear 1.1.99-101). Though she speaks from her heart, Lear ultimately rejects her argument, recognizing that she is not worthy of his wealth as expressed through his belittling tone. As a result, Lear blesses his kingdom upon his ungrateful, lying daughters who he believes to have loved him the most when in fact, he exiled the only daughter to have truly loved him.
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