William Shakespeare 's King Lear Essay

William Shakespeare 's King Lear Essay

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In Shakespeare 's King Lear, it is arguable that there is not only one antagonist, but multiple. Each antagonist is operating with separate motive throughout Lear. Possible antagonists include Goneril, and Regan, both daughters to the King, and Edmund, the bastard son of Gloucester. Goneril, the daughter of King Lear, poses to be the most internally villainous. Goneril, compared to Edmund and her other sisters, operates on the lowest degree of motivation. Due to this lack of motivation, she becomes the most inhumane and villainous antagonist. Goneril has already been placed in a state of virtue and power by her father, but yet continues to plot against her family and others for personal gain.
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As the play advances, Goneril continues to show a lack of motivation of her deeds. This lack of motivation disconnects the reader from Goneril, transforming her into a less human, more villainous character. Firstly, it is hard for a reader to connect with someone who is already in power. And secondly, Goneril is already awarded power by her father. In our first instance of meeting Goneril, we see that she is willing to do anything for that power. Goneril tries to woo her father in saying:
Sir, I do love you more than words can wield the matter,
Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty,
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor,
As much as child e 'er loved or father found
A love that makes breath poor and speech unable.
Beyond all manner of so much I love you. (I,i,51-57)
In contrast, there is Cordelia, who refuses to make such claims to her father, as she is to be married soon. This contrast allows the reader to see the fault in Goneril and her attempts to gain power through her fathe...


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...s merely a vessel in shakespeare 's plot. Regan’s actions were fairly minimal in any deeds done as well. It is true that GLoucester’s eyes were removed under Regan, but even then, it was Goneril’s idea to “Pluck out his eyes.” (III, iiv, 5). When Goneril leaves, Cornwall, not Regan, removes Gloucester 's eyes. Regan also further helps develop Goneril’s character as she provides a sort of short, and false motivation for Goneril to take Edmund as her husband instead of Albany. Goneril does this for only pure spite of her so called “weak” husband and sister. It then becomes prevalent that Goneril only acts on self-indulgence.
Every antagonist in Lear, turns to pale in comparison to Goneril. Goneril, with her mixture of power, want for more power and the destruction of others, and overall self-indulgence becomes a rather understated, but truly evil villain in King Lear.

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