The Relationship between Power and Love in King Lear

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Power and Love in Shakespeare's "King Lear"

Shakespeare once again explores the relationship between love and power in his great work of literature. Power and love closely relate both antagonistically and in agreement depending on the occasions that arise. Power seems to attract love and the converse is true in "King Lear" play. It is important to realize that just like power, love too, is evil and both converge and a point. There are instances in the play where thought at the helm of authority are regarded as very evil and portray how it can be used to oppress the innocent. On the other hand leadership and authority console cajole and uplifts people. Objectively power is a good thing that brings love and subjectively the same power turns out to be a source of hatred and eradicated love.

The Insensitivity of Those in Authority

Those who possess and own authority show a sense of insensitivity to the extent that they do not have the values of empathy nor sympathy. Those who suffer need sympathy while those who are emotionally disturbed need empathy but when one is in power, love is out of the question and even the unfortunate group do not get any help from those at the pinnacle of authority. When King Lear opens his talks in the first Act and the first Scene, it is clear that he has an intention to distribute power among his children. The speech of the king creates tension as he demands that all his three children must proclaim publicly that they love him. At this point, the power seems to be used to bribe affection. In this seen King Lear appears to be very weak and tired as his age is pointed him in the direction of retirement. Yet he is not just ready to leave his seat, in fact, he wants to use the affection for his daughters as a corruption plot to give them the authority when there are other more capable people. The aspect of being weak is conveyed in the statement. "Conferring them on younger strength, while we unburdened crawl towards death."

The Dual Role of King Lear

Moreover, the king's daughters due to their love for Lear address him not just as a father but as a statesman with an absolute strength of authority. They refer to him as "sir" and "your highness". In most cases in the contemporary society, a father remains a title and the only name children address their father with. However, power elevates the stature of the fatherhood to the extent that Lear's daughters see him in two dimensions. First as a father and second a leader. They interweave both affection and authority for their father to keep their love him. This is shown in Act 1 scene 1, lines 90-95, "Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your majesty, according to my bond, no more no less." The words by Cordelia is a sign of arrogance that the urge to attain power from a loving father can instill in a daughter.

The Greed for Power

Regan uses hyperbolic tone to convince his father to leave his power. The exaggerated love that Regan has for his father could as well be concluded to be a concoction of pleasurable words to win his seat at the pinnacle of authority. In fact, Shakespeare uses poetry to convey the exaggeration used by Goneril even though Regan uses more words to flatter king Lear so that the king confers power to the daughter. The speeches delivered by Regan and Cordelia both are untrue and takes advantage of the vulnerability of the king. Every child needs power and has to use love as a bridge to get to inherit it from their father. The greed of daughters is so much that they purport to have endearness to their father just to obtain dominance to satisfy their need.

Cordelia's Truthfulness

When Cordelia steps into the stage, she creates a rapport with the audience using the asides that make her speech better and even real as compared to the rest of other siblings. Hers is a simple use of the word "nothing" which to the audience proves she is honest. The mood gets an instant transition not only in the audience but also in the play itself. The daughter and father involve in exchange of words which creates tension in the play. Lear at the point feels so frustrated as Cordelia decides not to fall a prey of the "love test". She, in fact, shows that she has authority when she does not take part in the whole ceremony. Cordelia comes out real when she tells the father the truth and that power is not just pretence of love. Goneril and Regan do not portray the real situation as it were and their old father simply believes their lies.

The Insincerity of Love

On one hand, love is a true accompaniment of power but in most cases, this is never true. Love carries in itself hypocrisy to attain authority. The love that is portrayed by King Lear's two daughters is full of arrogance, pretence and pride. They fool their father using good words ton pleases him in order to inherit his dominance. The father is too old and desperate to see the hypocrisy in his children's speech. Cordelia changes this when she stands for the truth. The use of stylistic devices like hyperbole, themes like power and love, character traits like pride and hypocrisy proves too well the insincerity of love as Shakespeare correctly uses the three to build on the play.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William, and R A. Foakes. King Lear. , 2016. Print.

December 12, 2023




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