King Lear ~ Themes and Motifs

Loyalty and Betrayal Goneril, Regan and Edmund betray their familiesEdgar and Cordelia are loyal to their familiesThe Fool and Kent are loyal to Lear
Chaos/Natural Order Lear causes chaos when he defies the natural order of succession
Role of Women The women simultaneously subvert and conform to the roles imposed on them by society:Cordelia – Defies her father, but is still loyal and willing to fulfil her duty as his daughter and stand by his side, even though it ultimately leads to her deathGoneril & Regan – Conform to the idea that women are innately sinful. Conversely, they defy their father, breaking familial bonds (arguably he started it…) and they try and gain power for themselves…which wasn’t expected of women at the time.
Family Edmund betrays his brother and his father.Goneril and Regan betray their father.Cordelia and Edgar are the only ones who are loyal to their fathers.
Madness Lear descends into madness over the course of the play.Edgar pretends to be mad to save himself.
Blindness Lear and Gloucester were both metaphorically blind to the manipulation from their children.Gloucester is ultimately physically blind too because they both trusted Goneril and Regan.When they finally see the truth, it is too late.