Shakespeare’s play, King Lear, demonstrates power struggles between parents and children in the form of a tragedy. The main conflict of the play is between King Lear and his two daughters, Goneril and Regan, whom he gave his inheritance to. One of the most significant passages of the entire play is where Goneril, the eldest daughter of King Lear confronts him for the first time, and they argue about the issue of King Lear’s one hundred followers. This dispute is literally the spark that ignites the fuse of the explosive conflicts that ensues the rest of the play. Goneril: I do beseech you
To understand my purposes aright.
As you are old and reverend, you should be wise.
Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
Men so disordered, so deboshed and bold,
That this our court, infected with their manners,
Shows like a riotous inn. Epicurism and lust
Make it more like a tavern or a brothel
Than a graced palace. The shame itself doth speak
For instant remedy; be then desired
By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
A little to disquantify your train;
And the remainder that shall still depend,
To be such men as may besort your age,
And know themselves and you.
(King Lear, 1.4.212-27)
Goneril begins by saying she is “beseeching” her father to understand her rightful purposes. The word beseech has a weaker connotation to it, like a beggar pleading for something. However, the tone of the rest of the passage contradicts her attempt to seem like she is begging her father. Goneril continues on, saying, “As you are old and reverend, you should be wise” (1.4.218). On the surface, this may seem like a compliment to King Lear, but it is in fact, quite the opposite. By telling King Lear that he should be wise, Goneril is indirectly saying that he is not wise. Furthermore, Goneril is calling King Lear old, which can bring upon a negative connotation. In the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “old” can mean: “Of a material...