Deception in King Lear

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The Deception in King Lear

William Shakespeare's play King Lear is a play full of deceit, betrayal and meaningless promises. This becomes evident in the first few lines. We first learn of the empty words of Goneril and Regan as well as their hatred for their father, King Lear. This becomes the center of the play and also leads to the madness that the king suffers from.

The first words that Goneril speaks are totally empty and are the complete opposite of what she really feels. She says, 'Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter; Dearer than eye-sight, space and liberty;' (I.i.54-55) The reason why there are no words to express her love for her father is that she has no love for him and it does not exist. The same goes for her sister, Regan, who is plotting against her father as well. She says that she feels the same way as her sister and expresses how Goneril has named her very deed of love.

Regan adds a little twist to this and professes that she loves Lear more than her sisters and that Goneril's affection for her father 'comes too short.' (I.i.71) By uttering these words, Regan shows that her love is even less true than that of her sister's. She goes even farther to say:

'...that I profess

Myself an enemy to all other joys

Which the most precious square of sense possesses,

And find I am alone felicitate

In your dear highness' love.'


This goes to show that she is more greedy than her sister and her words are also falser. She wants more than her sister and will do anything to attain her goal. Her ambition to get what she wants is evident in the words that she...