A father and daughter’s connection is typically the strongest and emotional bond that is within many families. From the time little girls are out of the womb, they notice their fathers being head of the household, and also the protector and provider. Usually in many families, sometimes the fathers are incredibly sensitive when it come to their daughters. As a result, they let their daughters make all the rules and decisions. Daughters possess these particular abilities by either, whining, crying, or battling their eyelids. It is very easy to have it very easy as a daddy’s girl when the relationship is incredibly strong. With that being said, in the play, King Lear, there lies an important relationship between King Lear and each of his three daughters. Goneril is his eldest daughter, Regan is the middle, and then there is Cordelia who is King Lear’s youngest and favorite daughter. Each individual daughter plays a very important role to their father. In this particular Shakespeare’s play, it focuses on the dysfunctional relationship of this royal family, but also the emotional strain that goes along with being a father and having to make difficult decisions that will possibly divide his daughters. With that being said, Lear’s relationship with all three of his daughters are important to the overall meaning of the play, King Lear.
In the play, King Lear really wants to give his daughter Cordelia the kingdom he controls, but she is his youngest daughter. King Lear admires her so much that he really wants her to have everything he owns, including the kingdom. However, he believes that Cordelia will not be able to acquire the kingdom because she is the youngest out of his three daughters. With that being said, King Lear constructs a test to identify who loves him more to avoid choosing only one of his daughters to take over the kingdom. Goneril and Regan both smooths their father with a ton of praise and fake love, but Cordelia just states that she loves him. “According to my bond, no more, no less” (1363). After hearing all of his daughters signify their love for him, he then asks Cordelia for another chance to reveal her love more; yet, she refuses. This really hurts King Lear, so he gives the kingdom to both of his eldest and evilest daughters, Goneril and Regan. Cordelia knows her sisters possesses hatred and deceitful wickedness. Soon after the kingdom is given to the girls, they began not only betraying and treating their youngest sister bad, but they treat their father worst.
Goneril is King Lear’s eldest and wickedest daughter. In the play, she continuously confesses her love for her father in order to gain the biggest part of his kingdom. “Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter; Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty” (1363). She goes and states that her love for him is more than life itself. However, when King Lear gives her half of the land he owns, she instantly betrays him. She began plotting her father’s murder. As well as getting rid of King Lear’s knights, or having them turn against him. “And let his knights have colder looks among you. What grows of it, no matter. Advise your fellows so” (1373). Goneril’s true feelings and her character reveals when she does not show any type of emotion towards her father when he is forced to be homeless, and wander in the elements of nature.
The eldest daughter of King Lear, Goneril, ends up doing a ton of evil and betrayal actions in the play King Lear after living off of power throughout the play. In the beginning, Goneril portrays as being a compassionate and innocent daughter who wanted nothing but the best for her father. Yet, she betrays her father and pretend to love him, even beyond Lear’s actions of unacceptable behavior that she is responsible for. This shows a lot of disobedience towards her father. Also, Goneril is incredibly disrespectful after receiving power from her father and turning her back on hime when he did not very much expect her to do such act. It is not very common that daughters are very ignorant to their fathers. The relationship between the two, Goneril, and her father King Lear is extremely crucial. King Lear appreciates his daughter once she voices her love for him, but in return, Goneril did not truly love her father, but instead she was cruel and evil to him.
Now, Regan is the middle daughter who partakes in many wicked acts with her eldest sister Goneril, but she is less evil and passive. In the beginning of the play, Regan greets her father with politeness and the upmost respect. However, she decides to follow in Goneril’s footsteps on the hopes of becoming superior. When King Lear asks both daughters, Goneril and Regan who love him more, they both express their love for him. Regan states that she loves him more than Goneril. Also, Regan tends to always try to out do Goneril. Both sisters soon gain power over the kingdom. Soon after that, they then began to plot against their father and youngest sister Cordelia. Regan betrays her father right along with Goneril. “I cannot think my sister in the least; Would fail her obligation” (1394). Yet, Regan does not direct her opposition of her father until Goneril shows up there to support her. “Sir, I am made; Of the self-same metal that my sister is, And prize me at her worth. In my true heart; I find she names my very deed of love” (). In the play, Regan either compete with her eldest sister or follow her to defeat their father King Lear.
In the play, Regan does show kindness towards her father a few times throughout the play. That shows the audience that a part of her does show compassion and a part of her does contain some kind of humanity. She also appears to be very gentle and sympathetic. Since Regan sees the potential of Goneril being more superior than her, she gets jealous and become envy of her. Regan competes with her eldest sister when her father gives her partial of the kingdom. This goes to show that she is incredibly greedy than Goneril and her words are more artificial. Regan wants more than Goneril and will do and say anything to her father to obtain part of the kingdom as well. The words that she express to her father is evident that she is determined to get what she wants. The way she treats King Lear after receiving what she wants is incredibly villainous and cruel simply because she treats him very wrong. As a daughter to a ruler, she should treat him with the upmost respect. Regan, however, does not treat him well and betrays him along with Goneril. She agrees with Goneril to leave her dad in the wanders. The relationship between Regan and King Lear is the same as Goneril and King Lear. It is truly wrong from her to contravene her father the way she does. The relationship with her father clearly does not mean anything special to her.
Lastly, Cordelia is King Lear’s youngest and favorite daughter. However, King Lear gets upset with her once she does not pour her love out to him when it is time to give his kingdom up to his daughters. He betrays her for that and gives the kingdom to his eldest daughters. That does not stop Cordelia from loving her father. When King Lear wants his kingdom back, Cordelia helps him get back to France in order to gain it back. After the help of Cordelia, King Lear realizes how much of a harsh father he has been to her and wants to make it up to her. “We two alone will sing like birds i’th’ cage. When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down, And ask of thee forgiveness. So we’ll live, and pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh” (1435). They both forgive each other despite all the wrong that her father plots against her. She instantly forgives him, which makes him feel guilty. However, it becomes too late for him to make mends with her. Cordelia gets executed for saving her father. Soon after, King Lear dies from guilt and grief because his heart is broken. He knows that their relationship did not ever get to progress.
After the betrayal of her father, Cordelia remain to still respect and obey her father. She is the only daughter who is truly loyal and loving. In the play, she asks her mean sisters to take care of their father saying, “Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides, Who covers faults, at last with shame derides” (1368). Also, she is obedient to her father’s wishes. When he needs guidance and help to get back to France to help him fight to get back to his kingdom; she does just that. Rather than banishing her father the way he does her, she instead remains devoted to him. King Lear notice how rudely he treats his youngest daughter only because she does not want to openly express her love the way he wanted her to. She remains to be there for him despite what he has done to her. Cordelia’s forgiveness towards her father’s actions shows that his wrongdoing towards her does not mean she must be disobedient to her father. She instead feel very remorse and still cares for him. This shows the audience that Cordelia truly loves her father while her eldest sisters Goneril and Regan does not, which leads to the dysfunctional relationship they have. In the play, Cordelia wants to show her father her love rather than explain with words.
The conclusion of the relation between Goneril, Regan, Cordelia and their father shows that actions speak louder than words. Goneril and Regan goes above and beyond with expressing their love for their father, yet, betrays him badly while plotting to kill him once after getting half of the kingdom from him. On the other hand, Cordelia is banished for the majority of the play, but is the only daughter to genuinely admire her father. King Lear finally realizes that words are not very well guaranteed, but facts and love needs to be demonstrated every day. The relationship between King Lear and his daughters, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia is the main and important meaning in the Shakespeare’s play, King Lear.