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King Lear

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Chris Rose 5 February 2002 GCSE Major Coursework Assignment: Shakespeare: King Lear The play king Lear written by William Shakespeare deals with relationships, greed and selfishness as issues. The play is about an aging king and his three daughters to decide how much each daughter gets he asks them all to in turn to put their love for him into words. The most loved daughter and youngest daughter called Cordelia goes last. After Regan and Gonerills speech Cordelia refuses, saying that she cannot ask her love into words. Lear casts her away and as disowns her. She goes off to marry the king of France, and later returns leading an army. The rest of the play revolves around the consequences of these actions. Shakespeare would have got the ideas that he put in king Lear from topical gossip and books that were around at the time. One topic of conversation in London around this time was sir William Allen. He suffered a similar state of affairs as King Lear did, because he was also aging and he also decided to give up his estate and split it three ways, only, Lear had one advantage, Lear had Cordelia whereas sir William Allen was mistreated by all three of his daughters. One winter, his daughters got so sick of looking after him, that they even refused to give him fuel to keep himself warm. ...read more.


Lear's madness was also added, but that is because Shakespeare has changed the story from the version in 'Chronicles of England, Scotlande and Irelande'. The play both begins and ends with the whole royal family before the audience. Gloucester's family members never appear on stage al together at any one time. Gonerill is the eldest of Lear's daughters and is the first to suggest all of the devious ideas. She is the first the start the disagreements between her and her father. Shakespeare portrays her as evil in many of the same ways as Regan, her sister. At the end of Act I, Gonerill says "We must do something, and I'th 'heat" where as Regan seems to be quite skeptical because she says "We shall think further of it" as if to put it off because she doesn't want to deal with it. Once Gonerill is given land, she has no more need for her father, and so she plans to cast him away. Since she has no need for him he becomes a nuisance and so she again begins to plan with her more reluctant sister Regan. When she looses the need for her father she also looses her love for him, which says a lot about there relationship before. She never really loved him, she cannot have loved him because you don't just switch feelings off, but you are meant to think she has. ...read more.


The storm represents the turmoil going on inside Lears head. He is caught up in his own emotions, just as he is caught up in the storm. Similarly to her sister she has a very cruel and blood lusty nature, because when her husband is putting out the Earl of Gloucesters eye she cheers and encourages it. The removal of the Earl of Gloucesters eyes is symbolic in the respect that he can see more clearly after his eyes are removed, just the same as Lear can see better when his sanity is removed. Another of her characteristics that is similar to her sister is her greed and envious nature. Ironically it leads to her demise when Gonerill poisons her! When her husband, the Duke of Cornwall dies she doesn't seem to care because she seems to have never loves him. She does however quickly go after Edmund. She never is happy with what she has got. I believe that Shakespeare may have been displaying in the play that Lear's daughters were all of a reflection of him, Gonerill and Regan are his darker characteristics such as cruelty, greed and pride and Cordelia reflect his good characteristics such as purity. He gets madder and madder as these parts of him are removed. One of the greatest ironies of this tragedy is that the deception is emotionally, not physically, and the people who have no darker quest have to fool people by disguising themselves physically: Kent and Edgar. ...read more.

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