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Theme of Betrayal in 'King Lear'

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William Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear, centres on an elderly king (Lear) who intends to divide his kingdom between his three daughters namely Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. Since King Lear had no male child to inherit the throne, he decided to share his assets in order to avoid an occurrence of any conflict between the daughters after his demise. Conversely, the early retirement and partition of the kingdom deal caused uproar in the family, breaking apart the kingdom. As a result, family assumption, intimidation and trust caused the betrayals. This also resulted in cold war across the kingdom with family members plotting deaths for each other. Although King Lear wanted to ensure that the kingdom was peaceful by sharing his possessions with the daughters, Shakespeare uses the theme of betrayal to demonstrate conflict in the royal family.
The theme of betrayal is prevalent in the play as it chronicles the manners of the children who profess their love for their fathers. This is contrary to their true feelings since they do not show the love they possess for their fathers. King Lear assumed that Cordelia was the best daughter that truly loved him, but could not express her feelings through spoken descriptions. She tells her father, "I love your Majesty / According to my bond, neither more nor les” (1. 1. 94-95). This exposes the evil habits in both domestic and political jurisdictions as brothers deceive brothers and children betray fathers. For instance, Goneril and Regan’s betrayal of their father enables them to ascend to power while in Britain where Edmund also joins them after deceiving Edgar and Gloucester (Shakespeare and Alan 301). This act of betrayal is a manifestation of greed and selfishness in Lear’s kingdom where ...

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...s that the parents trusted their families since they thought the children were always loyal. It is apparent that betrayal led to the demise and disintegration of families when the unwise and greedy children had to suffer. The author shows the theme of betrayal through a family medium to expose the significance of having a strong familial bond free from political inclinations. Edmund displays this aspect by betraying his family because of political intentions concerning the inheritance of the throne.

Works Cited

Lennard, John. William Shakespeare: King Lear. Penrith [U.K. Humanities-Ebooks,
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Ruth, Corinna. William Shakespeare's King Lear. Piscataway, N.J: Research & Education
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Shakespeare, William. King Lear. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.
Shakespeare, William, and Alan Durband. King Lear. Cheltenham, U.K: Stanley Thornes,
1996.
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