What is the perception of love in this play ?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a fairly loaded question.  Love is perceived in a variety of ways in the drama.  The initial moment in which King Lear asks his daughters to express their love for him brings out a perception that love, a transcendent emotion, can be debased into a form of contingency.  The irony is that King Lear's perception of love transforms as the play develops, one that renders him more incapable of being a part of the contingency that he himself initiated with his actions.  Lear's about face in the issue of love is reflective of the perception that it is an intricate emotion, one that can be appropriated in different ways, by different people, and in different contexts.  Love is shown to be present in different forms.  There is the material love of Regan and Goneril, as well as the transcendentally universal notion offered by Cordelia.  There is the love of title that Edmund displays, as well as the love of honor that Edgar displays.  Love is shown to be a complex emotion, and one whose intricacy is evident in the characters' actions in the drama.

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