Paper: An Analysis of the Motifs and Themes of William Shakespeare's Play King Lear

Gloucester punishes Edgar and later finds that Edmund was the one taking advantage of him. Similarly, Regan and Goneril gain Lear's favor, while Cordelia is left 'dowerless' and banished from the kingdom. In the end, though, Cordelia saves Lear from the betrayal of Goneril and Regan. Shakespeare develops these major motifs with supporting motifs. He describes how revenge can affect families and create problems for the characters. He also uses the senility associated with old age to justify the irrational actions of both Gloucester and Lear. Gloucester, deceived by Edmund, becomes paranoid of Edgar. Lear is portrayed as senile form the beginning when he splits his kingdom between his daughters. He becomes so engrossed by Goneril's and Regan’s flattery that when Cordelia refused to cater to his wishes, he banishes her in a fit of rage. Using the various motifs, Shakespeare makes many thematic statements about filial responsibility. Without scrutiny, many children will become overtaken by greed and attempt to get their parents’ wealth by any means. Some children will remain good at heart, but it is difficult to predict which children will honor their parents. This is shown in both plots of the story, with King Lear and Gloucester trusting, and being deceived by, the 'bad seeds.’ Lear learns of his troubles after both Goneril and Regan throw him out, but Gloucester understands the betrayal of Edmund much later. The other major theme in King Lear deals with appearances. Shakespeare states, as he does in many of his plays, that appearances can be deceiving. Many people put up false fronts in order to get what they want, including Regan's and Goneril's flattery. Once again, one must be careful not to fall victim to others’ false actions. Shakespeare emphasizes the need to think about actions that may have serious consequences, and not to rush into anything. Irrational behavior and gullibility cause many of the problems and conflicts in King Lear....