Using integrated linguistic and literary approaches compare how sibling relationships are presented in King Lear and The Godfather.
In both King Lear and The Godfather, sibling relationships are presented as volatile such as when Regan and Goneril temporarily collaborate to take Lear’s power but become obsessed with the competition for Edmund’s love and the camaraderie ends abruptly, while the Corleone siblings look out for each other and think family should come before business.
King Lear is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare in the Jacobean period after King James I of England came to the throne. Tragedies, which centre around dysfunctional families or couples such as Euripides’ Medea, focus on human suffering and require a high status protagonist to make a tragic mistake due to a flaw in his character which makes him human. King Lear’s tragic character flaw is arrogance and in some ways gullibility as he believes his daughters, Regan and Goneril, when they flatter him to gain a share of the kingdom. The key element for tragedies is the protagonist has to die shortly after recognising his error. It is typical for the audience to cry, giving them a cathartic experience.
At the time the play was staged, the audience were already familiar to the plot as folk tales and literature, similar to the play had circulated. For example, the love test originated from the tale of ‘The Goose-Girl at the Well’ where the king conducted a love test on his three daughters but disowned the youngest after comparing her love to salt whereas Cordelia was disowned when she said “I love your Majesty according to my bond, no more no less”. Another source was the case of Sir Brian Annesley, who had three daughters and left his wealth to his youngest daughter Cordell. He developed dementia which the eldest daughter used to contest the will. However, Cordell was able to fend off her sister and gain her inheritance. The source for the sub-plot of Gloucester and his sons is Sir