In Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear, why does King Lear's plan to divide his kingdom appear sensible on one hand but foolish on the other?

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As he is aging and thinking about succession, King Lear decides to divide his kingdom among his daughters. If this were the entirety of his plan, it would appear sensible. However, he does not determine to give each daughter an equal share or to divide the kingdom based on his daughters’ merits, but rather based on how well each daughter states her love for him.

This plan then appears foolish, as it invites rivalry, lies ,and deceit. Not surprisingly, it divides his kingdom and sets the older daughters against him once they have gotten what they want, and it ultimately leads to tragedy.

In act 1, scene 1, which takes place in King Lear's palace, Lear announces to his daughters his plan to divide his kingdom among them. He asks them which one loves him the most. Specifically:

And here are to be answer'd. Tell me, my daughters,—
Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,—
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1131 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on April 1, 2020
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