King Lear Essay, Research Paper
A Fairy Tale Family
Families aren?t perfect. When one thinks of fairy tales, he thinks of the perfect princes and princesses living happily ever after, similar to Cinderella finding her Prince Charming. However, life was not always perfect for Cinderella; before finding her prince her stepmother and stepsisters tortured her life. In Shakespeare?s King Lear, the play presents a happy and loving royal family, almost like a fairy tale. Nevertheless, the families in King Lear parallel the anguish and strife that Cinderella suffered with her family.
In King Lear Goneril and Regan portray the two stepsisters of Cinderella. Bound by greed and fortune, both sisters act out a scene of love for their father, King Lear. In reality, though, they plot for his death and his riches: ?There is further compliment of leave-taking between France and [Lear]. Pray you let us hit together; if our father carry authority with such disposition as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us.? (Act I, Scene I) Cinderella?s father was quite wealthy and once he married Cinderella?s stepmother, his wealth was dispersed among the new family. However, after his death, Cinderella had none of her father?s inheritance. Goneril and Regan made flowery speeches to declare their love for their father only to inherit the divided kingdom, however their words were only empty and not full of emotions, like their younger sister, Cordelia. Cordelia, like Cinderella, truly loved her father, even if words did not express the way she felt. Unfortunately, both were left with nothing from their father, while the wicked sisters got all. King Lear?s family represents a family of royalty and fairy tale, however problems arise in this royal household, just as it did in Cinderella.
King Lear is not alone with family problems; his children also trouble his dear friend, Gloucester. Just like King Lear?s daughters, Gloucester?s bastard son, Edmund, wants the family inheritance for himself. His treachery is as wicked as Goneril and Regan ? to kill their own father. He says to himself, ?Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land. Our father?s love is to the bastard Edmund as to th? legitimate.? (Act I, Scene II) Greed has consumed Edmund?s mind that he does not care for his brother or father. He acts as the male counterpart of the stepsisters, and Edgar as the female counterpart. This royal household as well, lives the fairy tale setting; however, there is always a twist in a perfect story. Goneril, Regan and Edmund present themselves as the villains of this royal, fantasy family, just as the stepsisters and the stepmother were to Cinderella.
To every villain, there is always a hero or heroine. In this case, Cordelia and Edgar, the faithful children, save their fathers from their doom. After Goneril and Regan punish their father by releasing him in the wilderness, Lear goes mad and uncontrollable, however Cordelia is the one who tames her father: ?O my dear father! Restoration hang thy medicine on my lips, and let this kiss repair those violent harms that my two sisters have in thy reverence made.? (Act IV, Scene VII) Even though Lear disinherits Cordelia, she still remains faithful to her father and brings him back to health. She holds no grudge for the banishment onto her. Edgar does the same as well; he duels his bastard brother in honor of his father and says, ?My name is Edgar, and thy father?s son. The gods are just, and of our pleasant gives make instruments to plague us.? (Act V, Scene II) Because of Edmund, Edgar fled the country in fear, and Gloucester suffered an eye gouging. But no matter what suffering Edgar went through, he honors his father and fight for him. Both Cordelia and Edgar look past the wronging that their fathers have done to them and instead recognize the suffering that their siblings have done to their fathers.
The royal families in King Lear parallel many aspects of a fairy tale, specifically Cinderella. Both have their wicked siblings who plot against the protagonists. Although fairy tales have their villains, just as King Lear had Edmund, Regan and Goneril, they also contain the heroes of the story who make the fairy tale a happy ending.