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What are the parent/child relationships in "King Lear"?

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sarvchohan | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 24, 2009 at 7:28 PM via web

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What are the parent/child relationships in "King Lear"?

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted April 7, 2009 at 5:04 AM (Answer #1)

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The double plot of King Lear has parallel stories of two hapless old fathers and their children. The octogenarian Lear proposes to distribute his kingdom among his three daughters--Goneril, Regan and Cordelia--on the basis of their respective eloquence to quantify their love for the old father.Goneril and Regan get their shares by exaggeration and flattery, while Cordelia is banished by Lear for reiterating 'nothing'. Lear's story is one of abandoning the good daughter and rewarding the false & selfish ones, leading to the ill-treatment of the father by Goneril and Regan, while the banished daughter vainly tries to rescue and rehabilitate her wronged father. Cordelia dies the death of a martyr of love, proving her 'nothing' so authentic & substantial, whereas the two 'pelican daughters' degenerate and get deceased.

In the parallel story, old and credulous Goucester suspects, hates & abandons his good son, Edgar, and embraces his bastard son, Edmund, who turns into a Machiavellian villain to betray his father. Thus the parent-child relationship in the main plot is duplicated in the sub-plot.The tragedy of Lear and Gloucester deals with the theme of filial ingratitude, the appearance and reality of parent-child relationship.

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emeraldjde | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 25, 2009 at 11:29 AM (Answer #2)

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The major characters involved in parent/child relationships are King Lear and his three daughters, Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia (the true one), and then Gloucester and his two sons, Edgar, the legitimate son and Edmund, the illegitimate son.

For more information on how these relationships intertwine and unfold, please see the attached links from eNotes.  They are quite informative.

Hope that helps get you started!

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