Restructuring Relationships in King Lear
The play of "King Lear" is about a search for personal identity. In the historical period in which this play is set, the social structure was set in order of things closest to Heaven. Therefore, on Earth, the king was at the top, followed by his noblemen and going all the way down to the basest of objects such as rocks and dirt. This structure was set up by the people, and by going by the premise that anything that is man made is imperfect, this system cannot exist for long without conflict.
Through tattered clothes small vices do appear;
Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtles breaks; (IV, vi).
The chaos that occurs in "King Lear" is due the reshaping of bonds within the society. Thus naturally, bonds must be broken, kept and most importantly, formed. This rearrangement of bonds is necessary to Lear understanding his personal identity. Bonds that are broken include those relations between King Lear and his two eldest daughters (Regan and Goneril), between Glouster and Edmund and also between Edmund and Edgar. Lear and Cordelia; Lear and Kent; Glouster and Edgar include those bonds that are existent at both the beginning and conclusion of the play. By the ending of the play, Lear is able to come to terms with himself and with nature.
For the rearrangement of the bonds, it is necessary that those based on money, power, land, and deception be to abandoned. In the case of Lear and Goneril and Regan, his two daughters have deceived their father for their personal gain. Furthermore, they had not intended to keep the bond with their father once they had what they wanted. Goneril states "We must do something, and i' th' heat." (I, i, 355), meaning that they wish to take more power upon themselves while they can. By his two of his daughters betraying him, Lear was able to gain insight that he is not as respected as he perceives himself to be. The relationship broken between Edmund his half- bother, Edgar and father, Glouster is similarly deteriorated in the interest of material items. By the end of the play, Edgar has recognized who is brother really is and when he has confronted him says "the more th' hast wronged me...