Themes Of Love, Violence And Tragedy Essay

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King Lear, written by William Shakespeare, demonstrates themes of love, violence and tragedy. It is set in the 8th century and follows the story of the King as he decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters, an action which later proves to be fatally flawed. Gonerill is the oldest daughter and, like her sister Regan, has an obsession for power and will do almost anything to achieve it. Her aggressive nature would have been somewhat rare in women at the time.

In act 1, scene 1, King Lear is dividing his kingdom between his daughters and asking them to declare their love for him in return. His very open favouritism for Cordelia is evident as he saves her for last, already aware of his decision to give her the larger part. Gonerill, as the oldest, speaks first. She addresses him as ‘sir’ immediately indicating a formality between the king and his daughter. This also suggests that Gonerill may be fearful of him and his unpredictable nature. She states that she has ‘A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable’. This physical love Gonerill claims to have for King Lear suggests she needs to exaggerate largely, in order to compete with Cordelia. It is easy to see that this unrealistic declaration of love is not genuine; the daughter that loves him the most will receive the best land, therefore inheriting the most power. However, Lear appears to be oblivious to this. The King invites his second daughter to speak, addressing her as ‘Our dearest Regan, wife of…

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