King Lear Theme Of Deception

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Are all pretenses evil? In King Lear, William Shakespeare explores the theme of deception and its various kinds. Hungry for flattering words, King Lear tests the love of his three daughters by asking them to describe how much they love him. The winner would get the largest portion of his kingdom. Eager for land and power, Goneril and Regan try to do outdo each other in proving their love for Lear through empty declarations of love. On the contrary, Cordelia sees through the meaninglessness of speech and says nothing about her love. Infuriated, the King disowns Cordelia and divides his kingdom between his two remaining daughters who soon plots to kill him. Meanwhile, Gloucester keeps on demeaning his illegitimate son, Edmund, in public. Vengeful,…show more content…
When Goneril and Regan feign to love their father beyond words, they did this to gain their share of the kingdom. The only person who loves without asking anything in return rejects speech, so Cordelia says, “What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent” (Shakespeare 1.1.68). Words are unnecessary for true love that exists in the silence of devoted actions. Likewise, Edmund lies to his father about the letter to gain his trust and ruin Edgar’s reputation. He says that the latter “is [Edgar’s] hand…but [he hopes] his heart is / not in the contents” (Shakespeare 1.2.69-70). Edmund deceives his father by pretending to be the good son who cannot believe that Edgar can plot against their…show more content…
By pretending to be another person, Kent can serve King Lear, as he says, “If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemn'd, / So may it come, thy master, whom thou lovest, / Shall find thee full of labours” (Shakespeare 1.4.5-7). His lies have good ends- to protect the King whom he loves and intends to serve as long as he lives. Similarly, the Fool uses his job as a veneer for telling the truth. He asks the King “why a snail has a / house” and answers his question, “Why, to put 's head in, not to give it away to his / daughters and leave his horns without a case” (Shakespeare 1.5.27-31). The Fool compares Lear to a snail that has made the horrible mistake of trusting Goneril and Regan and giving his kingdom to them. He deceives the King by telling the truth through jokes, but his intention is pure. The Fool wants the King to wake up to his metaphorical blindness of his daughters’
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