Homework Help

What are the ironic reversals in King Lear?

user profile pic

dekauke | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 6, 2009 at 6:10 AM via web

dislike 1 like

What are the ironic reversals in King Lear?

2 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 11, 2009 at 2:40 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

Among other ironies in the play, Lear's tragedy is rooted in these two.

The daughters whom Lear loves and trusts the most and to whom he gives up his kingdom are the daughters who love him not at all and who betray him completely. Goneril treats her aged father with contempt, excercising the very power he gave her to abuse and humiliate him. When Lear turns to Regan for aid, she instead supports her sister in this cruelty. Because of the betrayal of these two daughters, Lear ultimately suffers beyond endurance and slips into madness--not the comfortable old age he believed he would enjoy with his two loving daughters caring for him.

The second basic irony in the play involves Cordelia. As the daughter who loves her father the most, the one who loves him enough to tell him the truth, Cordelia is disinherited and banished from her own country. Lear banishes Cordelia out of towering ego and foolish pride. It is Cordelia, however, who treats her father with tenderness and unconditional love at the end of his life, and it is Cordelia's death that plunges Lear into his deepest agony.

user profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 12, 2009 at 2:06 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

Another ironic reversal in King Lear is represented in the relationship between the King and the Fool.  The Fool is wiser than the King.

Another ironic reversal is when Gloucester becomes blind, he sees more clearly who his loyal and devoted son truly is, Edgar not Edmund.

In their desperate rivalry for Edmund, the two sisters, Goneril and Regan end up dead.  Love leads to pure hatred which results in vengeful behavior and death.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes