One could argue that in King Lear, Goneril and Regan do not start out as villains and do not immediately come across as completely evil, suggesting that their initial aim was neither horrible nor nasty. Their father is formally dividing the kingdom among his three daughters, and though he asked each of them to declare their love for him, he had already made up his mind as to the divisions. Lear’s asking for a verbal token of each daughter’s love may seem juvenile and sad, but it’s also just part of the ceremony in which Goneril and Regan play along with. Whilst they do exaggerate their love, one cannot hate the two older sister’s for going along with their father’s and the king’s wishes. Therefore, it can be argued that Goneril and Regan are not lying to their Lear for selfish reasons but to keep their father content.
In addition, it is clear to Goneril and Regan that their father favoured Cordelia most. This can be seen from Goneril’s line “He always loved our sister most”. As a result, the audience may sympathise with Goneril and Regan who feel unloved by their father and secondary compared to Cordelia. Therefore, whilst most audiences condemn the actions of the two sisters, one could suggest that it is possible to sympathise with Goneril or Regan as their spitefulness towards their father can be seen as a form of revenge for the unequal love they have received.