Manipulation: It is psychological manipulation through emotional exploitation

Manipulation: the skillful control by
something or someone. It is psychological manipulation through emotional exploitation
of the victim in order to gain privilege at the victim’s expense; in this case,
the victims being King Lear and Gloucester. Manipulation is the most prominent motif
in this play, and encompasses both plots; the plot with King Lear and the plot
with Gloucester. The manipulation of others in King Lear is a recurring event that involves all characters and
takes place over the course of the play. Since the beginning, King Lear is the
character who began the theme of manipulation, unknowingly leading the kingdom
to succumb to complete chaos. In Shakespeare’s King Lear, the reversal of power and hierarchal positions is a recurring
event and is the result of constant manipulation used by characters in order to
benefit them.

When portraying the manipulation of
others, diction plays a very important role. Throughout this passage, there is
the constant repetition of the royal “we” from Lear. When referring to a
sovereign, the “we” typically means “I”, however it is only used during
official situations and when dealing with the commonwealth, indicating that, as
Lear is referencing his daughters, he views them as less important and of
lesser status.

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There is also a clear shift of diction
in this passage, separating two of Lear’s thoughts: his death and the love of
his daughters. When referencing his death and the splitting of the kingdom, the
words used are very dark, aggressive, and unpleasant. He references “crawling
to his death”, portraying a potentially painful, slow and long death, where one
would suffer (1.1.41). When referencing Cordelia and telling his daughters to
profess their love for him, Lear use of vocabulary is more positive, using
words such as “love” and “amorous”. Due to Lear’s constant need for
self-gratification; he is constantly searching for others to boost his ego to solidify
that he is of more importance and has and honourable death. .

The constant irony and foreshadowing
in this passage is also extremely significant as it sets up what is going to
begin to occur in the near future and contributes to the overall meaning and
significance of the play. At the beginning of this passage, Lear states that
“he has divided in three the kingdom”, already designating which daughter
would inherit each part of the kingdom, Cordelia the most, and Goneril and
Regan the least. Although he already knew what portion everyone was going to
inherit, he still requested that his daughters explain how much they love him,
in order to continue to feed his ego. When asking “which of his daughters
loves him most” he continued on to say that “the largest bounty may extend
where nature doth with merit challenge” (1.1.52). In doing this he manipulates
his daughters, Goneril and Regan, into proclaiming their love for him, by
leading them to believe they have a chance of inheriting the largest part of
the kingdom. Lear does this in order to solidify that he is of more importance
and to boost his ego- although he gets no real gratification from it. This is
the earliest and most significant form of manipulation in the play, as Lear
allows himself to be manipulated by his daughters, blind to the fact that Goneril
and Regan do not actually love him. Although Lear has somewhat good intentions,
as he wishes to “shake all cares and business from his age” and “prevent
the future strife”, his manipulation of the situation and of his daughters is
what leads to the upcoming chaos- something that he is trying to avoid
(1.1.39,44-45). In trying to prevent conflict, he creates it by willingly
giving away all his power and his kingdom to his two daughters, Goneril and
Regan, who do not care for him or love him at all.

 

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