Is Lear a good father?

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enotes | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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From the standpoint of his role as the father of three daughters, Lear's division of his kingdom into three equal parts seems fair. Yet, as noted in Q&A #1, this division is actually a recipe for discord. What strikes us though is how little insight Lear has into the basic character of his daughters. Having lived with Goneril and Regan for two decades or more, Lear is completely unaware of their capacity for deceit; he seems genuinely shocked when they begin to undermine his status as regent emeritus. By the same token, Lear's dismissal of Cordelia as an ingrate stands in sharp contrast with her actual character as his only honest progeny. On this count too, Lear's view of himself as an ideal father does not square with his lack of insight into the respective characters of his daughters.

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