How is the appearance vs. reality theme illustrated in act 1 scene 1 of Cordelia's dialogue with King Lear?
Cordelia's older sisters, King Lear's other two daughters, have just lied to the king in declaring their love for him. In fact, they do not care about him at all and simply want to get hold of their share of the kingdom. They will say anything to get the power they crave.
Cordelia, more perceptive than her father, realizes her sisters are laying the flattery on thick. She is so disgusted with their lying flattery that when her turn comes to praise her father, she refuses to imitate their insincerity. In fact, she loves her father too much to lie to him. However, when she refuses to flatter him, the king is so enraged he disinherits and banishes her.
Lear's tragedy is that he mistakes his older daughters' words for their hearts and cannot see the sincerity of his youngest daughter's heart beneath her words. He mistakes words (appearances) for reality.