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Discuss the Character Development of Goneril and Regan.

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Aninda Shafayet Character Development ?Goneril and Regan? The two eldest daughters of Lear, Goneril and Regan, are portrayed as villains from the start of the novel. From the flattering of love to Lear for the part of his kingdom, to the poisoning of Regan and the suicide of Goneril, the developments in villainy of both the sisters increase with every scene. This increase in villainy is the result of their lust for power throughout the novel. Goneril, the oldest daughter, develops drastically as the story progresses. She is ruthless, amoral and jealous. ?Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;/Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;/Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;/No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;? (1.1.60-64) If we look at Act 1, Scene 1, when Lear was dividing his land, she praises him an extra bit, however not true, for a little extra of his land. As readers, we can pick up on the fact that she is not true of her saying, and is overzealous for power and land. However at the end of the scene, after Cordelia and France leave, she and her sister plan of how to get Lear out of their homes. In Act 1, Scene 3, Goneril tells her steward, Oswald, ?Put on what weary negligence you please/you and your fellows; I'll have it come to question:/If he dislike it, let him to our sister? (1.3.13-15). ...read more.


Goneril and Regan are, in a sense, personifications of evil in King Lear?they have no conscience, only hunger for power. It is this lust for power that drives them to crush all opposition and make themselves mistresses of England. However, this lust ultimately unravels their binding. Their desire for more power and their sexual attraction and desire to Edmund eventually turns them against each other. It is as if Shakespeare suggests to the readers that the lust for power and villainy eventually turns on itself. ________________ Key Passage: Goneril Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will hence to-night. Regan That's most certain, and with you; next month with us. Goneril You see how full of changes his age is; the observation we have made of it hath not been little: he always loved our sister most; and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off appears too grossly. Regan 'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself. Goneril The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash; then must we look to receive from his age, not alone the imperfections of long-engraffed condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with them. ...read more.


Later, in Act 2, Scene 4, Goneril and Regan ask Lear to banish all 50 of his knights that are left, as Goneril has already banished the other 50 before Lear came to stay with Regan. ?Hear me, my lord:/What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five, /to follow in a house where twice so many/Have a command to tend you? /What need one??(2.4.300-304). As the sisters get greedier, they seek to destroy the little power that he has left. The declining numbers here, from twenty-five to one, are metaphorically representing Lear?s dwindling power and his dignity and pride, as he is brought down to the status of a beggar, with no home and money. Goneril and Regan?s lust for more power leads them to commit more and more horrendous acts against Lear and anyone else who comes in between them and their wealth throughout the novel. This excerpt relates a lot to our theme of power and villainy, as with the power given to them by Lear himself, they slowly destroy Lear?s power and dignity throughout the novel. It also demonstrates Lear?s fall throughout the novel as he loses his power and dignity little by little with each scene. It makes the readers wonder, if Lear had not been foolish and not given his kingdom to the sisters or if he had given it all to Cordelia, would the final outcome and the sisters be different? ...read more.

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