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King Lear: Parent and Child Relationships

  • Date Submitted: 04/12/2013 05:46 AM
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GCSE English Literature
King Lear – Parent and Child Relationships

King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, written between 1603 and 1606. King Lear is a play that has many different themes in it for example, the madness and suffering of rulers and sight and blindness. However one of the most important themes of the play is its treatment of family life and parent and child relationships, Shakespeare focuses heavily on the relationships between fathers and their children and shows the effects of favouritism on all their lives.
King Lear has a main plot and a sub plot. In the sub plot the Duke of Gloucester’s illegitimate son Edmund deceives and betrays his father. This reflects the tragedy that occurs in the main plot and provides points of similarity with King Lear and his daughters. The main focus is the most important character, King Lear, throughout the play the audience witness his foolishness and suffering. Lear is a symbolic figure representing England. Shakespeare explores what happens when one decision can change everything, lies that cause the kingdom to fall apart. By the end of the first scene the kingdom has been divided destroying the peace and humanity in Lear’s family. Thereafter, chaos takes place, with a final scene of dramatic and violent death.
Inheritance issues were a matter of national concern for Shakespeare audience in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. A primogeniture where the eldest son inherits, in King Lear this is a potential problem as Lear only has three daughters.
Reaching old age and desiring a quiet life without the responsibilities and cares of state, King Lear decided to abdicate his throne in an attempt to divide his kingdom between his three daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. He devises a ‘love-test’ to see which daughter loves him the most, expecting his favourite youngest daughter Cordelia to have the greatest love for him and to claim the largest share of his kingdom. However, when...

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