Love is defined as a strong positive emotion of regard and affection; it can be extended to people, entities or even inanimate objects. It comes in many different forms and it is so common and prominent in our existence that it has managed to become part of various themes developed in literature and conventional stories. This is no different with King Lear, a tragic play by Williams Shakespeare based on the legend of King Leir, a king of pre-Roman Britain that dates back to the 1600's. The play King Lear reveals different kinds of love through characters: self-love as expressed by King Lear, false-love expressed by Lear's daughters Regan and Goneril and devotional love which is expressed by Oswald, which all add significantly to the outcome of the story.
King Lear himself is a prime example of self-love. First it is obvious Lear only cares about himself since he likes to be subjected to flattery. "Which of you shall say doth love us most, that our longest bounty may extend where nature doth with merit challenge." Lear is bribing his daughters, Goneril, Cordelia and Regan with wealth and land so he can see and hear who will express the most amount of affection. This leads to conflict within the family. Cordelia is the opposite of her sisters; she refuses to flatter her father because she is a realist and believes in genuine love, previously stating:" My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty According to my bond; nor more nor less." With the refusal to flatter her father, she is disowned, showing us that Lear is thinking about himself, since he can not get her to exaggerate her fondness and please him, he finds it more fitting to cast her away, Thus satisfying himself. Goneril and Regan are the opposite of Cordelia; they do not care about honesty. The duo easily falls pray to temptation and fulfil their father's selfish test of love. Second, King Lear suffers from excessive pride which leads to self-love, stating "Therefore be gone/ without our grace,...
Cited: Shakespeare, William. King Lear, New York:
Washington Square Press, 1993
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