King Lear - Family: a Medium for a Betrayal

Topics: William Shakespeare, King Lear, Family Pages: 3 (1075 words) Published: March 27, 2006
"Love is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love." (John LeCarre) In William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Lear, characters are betrayed by the closest people to them. The parents betray their children, mostly unintentionally. The children deceive their parents because of their greed and power hunger. Their parents were eventually forgiven, but the greedy children were not. Parents and their children betray one and other, and are only able to do so because they are family, however, the children betray for greed while the parents betray through the credulity caused by their children's greed. Two powerful characters in the play, aging King Lear and the gullible Earl of Gloucester, both betrayed their children unintentionally. Firstly, characters are betrayed due to family assumption. Lear banished his youngest daughter Cordelia because he over estimated how much she loved him. When questioned by her father, she responds with, "I love your Majesty / According to my bond, no more nor less." (I,i, 94-95) Lear assumed that since Cordelia was his daughter, she had to love him in a certain way, but he took this new knowledge and banished her without further thought. Secondly, characters were betrayed because of class. Edmund, the first-born son in the Gloucester family, should have been his father's next of kin. He would have been able to take over the position of Earl upon his father's death if he did not hold the title of a legitimate bastard. In his first soliloquy he says, "Why Bastard? Wherefore base? / When my dimensions are as well compact/ my mind as generous, and my shape as true…" (I,ii, 6-8) Edmund believes he is at least equal, if not more, to his father in body and in mind, but the title that his father regrettably gave to him still lingers. Lastly, characters were betrayed because of family trust. Gloucester trusted his son Edmund when he was told that his other son was trying to kill him. Upon reading the forged letter...

Bibliography: King Lear Essay, Family: A Medium for a Betrayal
March 16, 2006
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of King Lear . 2nd ed. Toronto: Harcourt
Shakespeare, 2002.
LeCarre, J. Introduction quotation.
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