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Greed in King Lear Essay


Often throughout the course of history, money and power have both been a driving force for people doing horrible things to others just to acquire it for themselves. Whether it be countries trying to go to war to take over territory or if it be children who try to take their parents' fortune for themselves, they are all doing terrible things to acquire them. In Shakespeare's work King Lear, Lear's daughters Regan and Goneril, as well as Gloucester's illegitimate son Edmund try to take their father's fortune by deception and with a silver tongue.

When a little kid is suspect for doing something that goes against the wishes of their parents, does that kid always respond with the truth and except punishment? In today's world, the answer is no; they will, instead, come up with a convincing lie to alter the blame to someone else or to lower their own punishment. That is one of the overall themes throughout the play King Lear. No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor,As much as child e'er loved or father found A love that makes breath poor and speech unable. Beyond all manner of so much I love you, (Act 1 scene 1 page 3). When King Lear is deciding the division of his kingdom between his three daughters, he asks them to state how much they love him. The elder daughter Goneril, whom is the most evil of the sisters and is easily able to use her excellent speaking skills to lie to Lear about her amount of love. Of course,all she wants in the end is the land that Lear will give to the one who tells him what he wants to hear. Throughout the course of the book, she goes to various lengths to take Lear's land for herself. Near the end of the play Goneril feels that Regan is in the way of her needs, so she poisons Regan in order to be the only one to receive the land. 'Sick, oh, sick.'' (To herself) If not, I'll ne'er trust medicine' (Act 5 scene 3 line 101). This shows how extreme Goneril's lengths are to get the land for herself because in order for her to do that, she must kill her sister, someone of the same flesh and blood. In an ironic twist of killing her sister, King Lear eventually dies from the heartbreak of the loss of his daughter, so none of the sisters have the land. Truly, it takes someone of the coldest of hearts to go to the extremes that Goneril did in order to acquire something for her own interest. Goneril, and a little bit of Reagan, act just like a child in order to get something; they blame others and create lies in order to curtain their true objective and to cover their underlying greed.

In an underscored parallel to the daughters, Edmund puts forth his own web of lies and deceit to take his father's fortune. Early on in the play, Edmund is already tricking Gloucester into thinking that his truly loyal son, Edgar, is trying to kill Gloucester and take his fortune. Gloucester reads a letter from Edgar, which says that If our father would sleep till I waked him, you should enjoy half his revenue forever, and live the beloved of your brother, (1.2 page 3). Simply said, if Gloucester were not alive, then Edmund could have have the fortune and Edgar the other half. AS a result of this letter Gloucester thinks that Edgar can not be trusted, which is part of Edmund's plan. Later on down the road, Edmund further adds disbelief about Edgar by acting as though Edgar had cut Edmund with his sword. Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion. Of my more fierce endeavor, (2.1 page 2). After their fight, Edgar had, once again, convinced Gloucester that Edgar is evil at heart, which it is later shown that Edmund is the evil one. However, one must know that even though Edgar is the heir of Gloucester's fortune, Edmund feels that he deserves the fortune as the life of a bastard son is usually never good. Even though what Edmund is doing is wrong, he justifies his actions on the basis that it is his turn to have something good, despite being the illegitimate son. It is off of Edmund's story that one can say that people often do terrible things to other people because they are motivated my a sense of self-justice.

Fame, fortune, property, justice- these things and more are motivators for people to ruin others for personal gain. As Serbian proverb says, A greedy father has thieves for children. This is shown by the stories of Lear and his daughters along with Gloucester and his sons because of how their way of trying to achieve what they want. Instead of being good little, honest children, they chose to be the deceptive children that are only out to avoid pain and gain pleasure. One can say that the things that motivate the children from Shakespeare's King Lear to ruin their flesh and blood are simply greed and a sense of justice.

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