Shakespeare uses animal comparisons in King Lear to explain how Lear’s daughters, Regan and Goneril, are worse than beasts in their actions toward their father. Lear ignores the laws of royal hierarchy when he divides his kingdom between his two eldest daughters, who claim to love him most. As a result, Regan and Goneril are able to act against the laws of coverture, where women are considered to be under her husband’s protection and authority, and treat their father poorly.
After Goneril, Lear’s eldest daughter, denies her father what he wants, Lear compares her to a vulture, hoping to get more compassion from his younger daughter, Regan: “O, Regan, she hath tied Sharp-toothed unkindness like a vulture, here” (2.4.134). Lear’s reference to Goneril as a vulture not only serves to implicate her as bestial, but also indicates how much she does not love Lear; feelings that she allows to show only after she has married and been given her part of the kingdom.
Regan is also conveyed …show more content…
The daughters whom Lear loves and trusts the most and to whom he gives up his kingdom, are the daughters who do not love him at all and who betray him completely. Goneril treats her father with disrespect, employing the very power he gave her to abuse and humiliate him. When Lear turns to Regan for aid, she instead supports her sister in this cruelty. Because of the betrayal of the two daughters he loved and trusted most with his kingdom, Lear ultimately suffers beyond endurance and slips into madness, not the comfortable old age he believed he would enjoy with his two loving daughters caring for