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Love Through The Ages | King Lear

Ruth Owen | Wednesday October 12, 2011

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Guide Navigation

  1. Studying For The Exam
  2. Examples From Literature
  3. About The Exam
  4. Further Reading
  5. The Examination
  6. Symptoms of Love, Graves
  7. On Chesil Beach
  8. The First Tooth, Lamb
  9. The Deserter
  10. The Soldier, Brooke
  11. A Lady of Letters
  12. Sonnet 130, Shakespeare
  13. Measure for Measure
  14. Hamlet
  15. Othello
  16. Equus
  17. Great Expectations
  18. Enduring Love
  19. Mid-Term Break, Heaney
  20. Your Last Drive
  21. The Going
  22. The Waste Land, Elliot

King Lear

William Shakespeare 1564-1616

Still on the theme of love between parent and child, in the stage play King Lear, Shakespeare presents this type of love, a theme that exists in several other of his plays. In fact Shakespeare’s plays and poetry merit close examination as every form of human love is explored. In King Lear, the audience witnesses the mental breakdown of an old man, Lear himself, who begins the play weary of the duties of kingship.  He sets up a ‘contest’ between his three daughters where each is expected to declare how much they love him, and by assessing their answers he will divide up his kingdom accordingly, between the three of them. The fact is, fell many critics, that Lear has already decided on the division and his youngest, favourite daughter is due to receive the best part. Events however do not go as he had planned. In this extract Goneril, the eldest of the three daughters speaks first at her father’s invitation.   

Lear:

Tell me my daughters,
Which of you shall we say does love us most
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where nature doth with merit challenge? - Goneril,
Our eldest born, speak first.

Goneril:

Sir, I do 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, honour,
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.
Cordelia: (aside) What shall Cordelia speak?...


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