Wow there are some nasty people in this one- I guess that’s why it is a tragedy. (spoiler alert- for this whole post)They start out being your garden variety of not-very-nice-people, with motives that we can at least understand even if we don’t relate to them. King Lear’s two older daughters are ready to take over their share of the Kingdom, and are getting frustrated with their aging father. In their prime, ambitious and confident, his naturally decline into old age is not something they enjoy having around them. Whether they used to love him is not clear, but they are now quite happy to fain love and regard to get their share of inheritance, and then turn around and shut him out of their lives. Edmund is the bastard younger son of an Earl names Gloucester, who is sick of the fact that being a bastard (born out of Wedlock) he is looked down upon. He decides he wants to try and get some inheritance taken away from his brother and given to him.
But as the play goes on, these character become more cruel, and they enjoy their cruelty. The daughters show a complete lack of respect for the old king and try to take away all of his supporting people and resources, making him a powerless guest in his own kingdom. Edmund manipulates situations so that his brother is going to be killed if found, and the sisters go as low as torturing a good man by plucking out his eyes, and one sister plotting the murder of her husband and sister.
As might have been expected by the downward trajectory of the play, everyone dies. I was hoping, as there was a chance right to the end, that the good characters would live, but alas- it is not termed a tragedy for nothing.
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!
When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools.