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Family relationship Essay!


At the very start of the play, Lear is in the process of splitting his kingdom between his
daughters when he flies into a temper and banishes his youngest daughter. This invokes
strain on family ties in the minds of the audience from early in the performance and
remains a theme throughout the play. Some would say this is what the main theme of
‘King Lear’ is This extract in particular explores the relationship between the newly
banished Cordelia and her sisters with the Gonerill and Regan discussing their father, who
they spoke of highly not 5 minutes before. The possible problems with Gonerill and Regan
progress throughout the play until the strain becomes so great that Lear is thrown from
both their houses and is forced to walk the moors cursing his children. !
There is a sense of dramatic irony when talking about the family relationships. The
audience can see that there are problems from the beginning and, through the brief
exchanges between the daughters that lear can’t see, can predict the inevitable collapse.
More specifically the audience witness the tension between Cordelia and the other sisters
and the plotting and distrust of their father that Gonerill and Regan show. This gives the
audience a sense of foreboding, suspecting that Lear is being set up for a fall. It also
makes the audience sympathetic for Cordelia who is blamed for creating a family
disturbance by speaking her mind and being honest and contempt for Regan and Gonerill
for being praised but actually worsening the situation.!


Cordelia speaks to her sisters in the beginning of this extract with politeness, using polite
mode of address “sister” and parting on good terms “well may you prosper”, but also the
contempt that the audience feels for their false declarations of love saying “I know what
you are”, a sentiment shared with the audience, in reference to their lying but also retains
her sense of dignity by not losing her temper and admitting “Like a sister am most loathed
to call your faults as they are named”. The audience respect her for her honesty but also
modesty and like wise Regan’s short, imperative reply of “Prescribe us not our duty”
flounces the maxim of quantity, appears as rudeness and makes the audience resent her
and Gonerill more. The metre of the lines also add to the juxtaposition of polite and rude
with Cordlia speaking in formal Blank verse and Gonerill and Regan replying in informal
prose. The relationship between the sisters are reflected by the metre Cordelia speaks
formally to her sisters and, in normal circumstances, they may speak formally back but
when speaking to each other Gonerill and Regan speak in prose to suggest they have a
closer relationship. This separation of the daughters creates a tension within the family. !


Many lines in the scene are examples of dramatic irony. A particularly noticeable
example is Cordelia’s parting remarks “Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides”. She
forewarns her sisters that lies will lead to a downfall, a statement that does indeed come
true. The fact her ‘predictions’ come true gives her a sense of truth enforced by her
“Washed eyes”, a metaphor for her newly discovered view of her sister as liers and

panderers. if his actions during the scene were not assurance enough the extent of Lear’s temper. that it has a mind of it’s own . Gonerill and Regan hold a distrust of their father and therefore personify his mood swings calling it “unruly waywardness”. This enforces.

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