Essay, Research Paper: King Lear Family

Shakespeare: King Lear

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Families aren’t perfect. When one thinks of fairy tales, he thinks of the
perfect princes and princesses living happily ever after, similar to Cinderella
finding her Prince Charming. However, life was not always perfect for
Cinderella; before finding her prince her stepmother and stepsisters tortured
her life. In Shakespeare’s King Lear, the play presents a happy and loving
royal family, almost like a fairy tale. Nevertheless, the families in King Lear
parallel the anguish and strife that Cinderella suffered with her family. In
King Lear Goneril and Regan portray the two stepsisters of Cinderella. Bound by
greed and fortune, both sisters act out a scene of love for their father, King
Lear. In reality, though, they plot for his death and his riches: “There is
further compliment of leave-taking between France and [Lear]. Pray you let us
hit together; if our father carry authority with such disposition as he bears,
this last surrender of his will but offend us.” (Act I, Scene I)
Cinderella’s father was quite wealthy and once he married Cinderella’s
stepmother, his wealth was dispersed among the new family. However, after his
death, Cinderella had none of her father’s inheritance. Goneril and Regan made
flowery speeches to declare their love for their father only to inherit the
divided kingdom, however their words were only empty and not full of emotions,
like their younger sister, Cordelia. Cordelia, like Cinderella, truly loved her
father, even if words did not express the way she felt. Unfortunately, both were
left with nothing from their father, while the wicked sisters got all. King
Lear’s family represents a family of royalty and fairy tale, however problems
arise in this royal household, just as it did in Cinderella. King Lear is not
alone with family problems; his children also trouble his dear friend,
Gloucester. Just like King Lear’s daughters, Gloucester’s bastard son,
Edmund, wants the family inheritance for himself. His treachery is as wicked as
Goneril and Regan – to kill their own father. He says to himself,
“Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land. Our father’s love is to the
bastard Edmund as to th’ legitimate.” (Act I, Scene II) Greed has consumed
Edmund’s mind that he does not care for his brother or father. He acts as the
male counterpart of the stepsisters, and Edgar as the female counterpart. This
royal household as well, lives the fairy tale setting; however, there is always
a twist in a perfect story. Goneril, Regan and Edmund present themselves as the
villains of this royal, fantasy family, just as the stepsisters and the
stepmother were to Cinderella. To every villain, there is always a hero or
heroine. In this case, Cordelia and Edgar, the faithful children, save their
fathers from their doom. After Goneril and Regan punish their father by
releasing him in the wilderness, Lear goes mad and uncontrollable, however
Cordelia is the one who tames her father: “O my dear father! Restoration hang
thy medicine on my lips, and let this kiss repair those violent harms that my
two sisters have in thy reverence made.” (Act IV, Scene VII) Even though Lear
disinherits Cordelia, she still remains faithful to her father and brings him
back to health. She holds no grudge for the banishment onto her. Edgar does the
same as well; he duels his bastard brother in honor of his father and says,
“My name is Edgar, and thy father’s son. The gods are just, and of our
pleasant gives make instruments to plague us.” (Act V, Scene II) Because of
Edmund, Edgar fled the country in fear, and Gloucester suffered an eye gouging.
But no matter what suffering Edgar went through, he honors his father and fight
for him. Both Cordelia and Edgar look past the wronging that their fathers have
done to them and instead recognize the suffering that their siblings have done
to their fathers. The royal families in King Lear parallel many aspects of a
fairy tale, specifically Cinderella. Both have their wicked siblings who plot
against the protagonists. Although fairy tales have their villains, just as King
Lear had Edmund, Regan and Goneril, they also contain the heroes of the story
who make the fairy tale a happy ending.
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