In King Lear act 2 scene 4, recall Goneril's and Regan's pledges of "love" to their father in act 1, scene 1. How does their current speech and behavior show they were lying? Quote the play in your analysis.

Goneril and Regan's pledges of love were made out of greed for their father, King Lear's, kingdom. Goneril and Regan's behavior in act 2, scene 4 of Shakespeare's King Lear refutes the pledge of love that they made to King Lear, in act 1, scene 1. The flip shows them to be wholly ruthless, uncaring, and loveless daughters.

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In act 1, scene 1 of Shakespeare's King Lear, Goneril and Regan profess their intense and undying love to their father, King Lear. In return, they're rewarded with sizable portions of Lear's kingdom.

Lear's third daughter, Cordelia, refuses to play the "I love you more" game; she's rewarded with...

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In act 1, scene 1 of Shakespeare's King Lear, Goneril and Regan profess their intense and undying love to their father, King Lear. In return, they're rewarded with sizable portions of Lear's kingdom.

Lear's third daughter, Cordelia, refuses to play the "I love you more" game; she's rewarded with banishment.

KING LEAR. Better thou
Hadst not been born than not to have pleased me better. (1.1.258-259)

As Cordelia leaves the scene, disgraced by Lear but betrothed to the King of France, she speaks to her sisters. In their conversation, she implies that all is not what it seems regarding Goneril and Regan's overwrought pledges of love to Lear.

CORDELIA. ...Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are;
And like a sister am most loath to call
Your faults as they are named. ...

Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides:
Who covers faults, at last shame them derides. (1.1.296-298, 308-309)

At the end of the scene, Goneril and Regan are already conspiring against Lear.

Earlier in the scene, Lear told Goneril and Regan's husbands that he would be travelling between their homes with a retinue of "one hundred knights," whom they will be expected to house and feed.

LEAR. Ourself, by monthly course,
With reservation of an hundred knights,
By you to be sustained, shall our abode
Make with you by due turns. (1.1.139-142)

Goneril and Regan are unhappy with this arrangement. They're also concerned about Lear's increasing infirmity of mind and body. They worry about what he might say or do that will disrupt their lives. In response to their fears, they arrange to meet and resolve the matter quickly.

REGAN. We shall further think on 't.

GONERIL. We must do something, and i' the heat. (1.1.331-332)

In act 2, scene 1, Regan remarks that Goneril has sent word that Lear's entourage of a hundred "riotous knights" (2.1.100) is causing trouble at Goneril's home. Regan decides to avoid her father when it's her turn to house Lear and his soldiers.

REGAN. Was he not companion with the riotous knights
That tend upon my father? . . .

I have this present evening from my sister
Been well informed of them; and with such cautions,
That if they come to sojourn at my house,
I'll not be there. (2.1.100-101, 107-110)

By act 2, scene 4, matters have worsened between Lear and Goneril. Lear left Goneril's home before the end of her month, and he's come to Regan to be taken in. At first, Regan refuses to speak with Lear. Later she relents and meets with him.

Lear complains bitterly about Goneril and how she mistreated him and cut his retinue to fifty men, expecting Regan to take his side. Regan sides with Goneril and takes Lear to task for the bad behavior of his soldiers, "the riots of your followers" (2.4.147), and for being old (2.4.151). She tells him that he needs someone to take care of him and make his decisions for him.

Regan then tells Lear to go back to Goneril and ask for her forgiveness, which Lear adamantly refuses to do.

REGAN. Therefore, I pray you,
That to our sister you do make return;
Say you have wronged her, sir.

KING LEAR. Ask her forgiveness?
Do you but mark how this becomes the house:
“Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;
Age is unnecessary: on my knees I beg
That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.” (2.4.155-162)

Goneril comes into the scene, and Regan once again appeals to Lear to return to Goneril's home

REGAN. I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
If, till the expiration of your month,
You will return and sojourn with my sister,
Dismissing half your train, come then to me... (2.4.216-219)

Lear again refuses to return to Goneril.

KING LEAR. Return to her, and fifty men dismissed?
No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,—
To wage against the enmity o' the air... (2.4.222-225)

Goneril responds as coldly and as ruthlessly as any daughter could respond to her father.

GONERIL. At your choice, sir. (2.4.233)

There's no love or caring of any kind in that line.

Regan offers a compromise of sorts. Regan offers to take Lear in if he will reduce his retinue to twenty-five soldiers.

REGAN. If you will come to me,—
...I entreat you
To bring but five and twenty: to no more
Will I give place or notice. (2.4.265-268)

The more Lear protests, the more implacable Regan and Goneril become. Lear decides to return to Goneril with fifty soldiers. This is when Regan and Goneril confuse and humiliate Lear and try to reduce his retinue to no soldiers at all.

KING LEAR. [To Goneril] I'll go with thee:
Thy fifty yet doth double five and twenty,
And thou art twice her love.

GONERIL. Hear me, my lord;
What need you five and twenty, ten, or five,
To follow in a house where twice so many
Have a command to tend you?

REGAN. What need one? (2.4.278-285)

Lear is incensed. He rails against Goneril and Regan, curses them, and impotently vows revenge on both of them.

LEAR. ...[Y]ou unnatural hags,
I will have such revenges on you both,
That all the world shall—I will do such things,—
What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
The terrors of the earth. (2.4.300-304)

Distraught, Lear goes out into the storm with Kent and his Fool, leaving the unfeeling and uncaring Goneril and Regan behind.

The sisters are pleased with themselves for having rid their lives of their father, even though they professed to love him more than words can say.

GONERIL. Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;
Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty;
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor;
As much as child e'er loved, or father found;
A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;
Beyond all manner of so much I love you. (1.1.55-62)

Goneril lied about her love for her father. So did Regan.

REGAN. Sir, I am made
Of the self-same mettle that my sister is,
And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
I find she names my very deed of love;
Only she comes too short: that I profess
Myself an enemy to all other joys,
Which the most precious square of sense possesses;
And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear highness' love. (1.1.71-79)

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