In King Lear, a literary masterpiece by the world famous
English playwright William Shakespeare, there are several
evident points trying to be made about the proper role of a
child to his or her parent. Through the characters of
Lear’s daughters, and the Earl of Gloucester’s son and his
bastard son, Shakespeare tries to stress that a child should
have love for his or her parent or parents, respect for his
or her parent or parents, and most of all obey his or her
parent or parents.
Beginning in the first act Shakespeare tries to stress
the point that a child should love his or her parent or
parents. Goneril, Lear’s eldest daughter, herself when
speaking to Lear states, “Sir, I love you more than words
can wield the matter, Dearer than eyesight, space, and
liberty....” and, “A love that makes breath poor and speech
unable. Beyond all manner of so much I love you.” Also,
when Regan, Lear’s second born daughter refers to Goneril’s
love for her father, she says, “...I find she names my very
deed of love; Only she comes too short, that I profess
myself an enemy to all other joys...” Cordelia, Lear’s
youngest child, says, “I love Your Majesty...” and also, “I
return those duties back as they are right fit, obey you,
love you...” It is obvious then, that Shakespeare feels
that a child should love his or her parent or parents very
William Shakespeare, or Big Willy, also put much
emphasis on respecting one’s parent or parents as well.
Cordelia herself says that she honors her father when she
states, “ have begot me, bred me, loved me. I return
those duties back as they are right fit, Obey you, love you,
and most honor you.” Big Willy feels that even if a child
does not love his or her parent or parents, then they still
must respect and honor them. Honoring someone and Loving
someone are two totally different things. One can honor
something and not love it, though it would be hard to not
honor something that one truly loves. Take for instance
this fact. I have much respect for the boogey man. I mean
come on, this guy has evaded all scientific probes for
centuries, is able to operate outside the laws of physics,
like being able to walk into a closet but as soon as the
lights come on he’s gone, and has the power to rip you to
shreds with his bare hands. It’s a little known fact that
sheets were actually invented as a protective barrier from
him. Even with all his power, as long as you are under the
safety of the sheets, he his harmless. So it is evident I
respect the Boogey man, but I don’t love him. I’d have to
be some sort of freak to do that.
Finally, and most importantly, Big Willy Shakespeare
feels that even if a parental/child relationship is “sans”
love or respect, the child still must obey his or her parent
or parents. This is evident in the ways that King Lear’s
daughters and Gloucester’s bastard son treats their fathers.
In act one scene one, Lear wants his daughters to tell him
that hey love him more than anything else in the world and
then he wants to make out with them for a while. Now even
if you didn’t want to do this, your father told you to, so
you have no choice, as far as I can tell. Cordelia felt
differently, however. She flat told him how it was. She
was all like, “Why have my sisters husbands if they say they
love you all? Haply, when I shall wed, that lord whose hand
must take my plight shall carry half my love with him, half
my care and duty. Sure I shall never marry like my sisters,
to love my father all.” Then King Lear was all like, “Here
I disclaim all my paternal care, Propinquity, and property
of blood, and as a stranger to my heart and me hold thee
from this forever.” In other words, he was just made
because he wanted her to make out with him, because he’s a
dirty, crazy old man, and when she wouldn’t do it, he got
mad at her and disowned her. Sounds like the story of my
In conclusion, King Lear is a play full of chills,
thrills, spills, and kills, but amidst all the action, or
extremely sufficient lack thereof, it is easy to miss the
deep underlying meaning: there is a proper role for a
child. This proper role is for the child to love his or her
parent or parents, respect his or her