To what Extent should we sympathize with Goneril and Regan based on the first 2 acts of the play?
The first 2 acts of the play are in a sort of twisted way, completely different. Act 1 is the begging where Lear’s problems slowly unfold, it is probably only at this stage that the audience sympathizes with Goneril and Regan especially in Scene 1 when their true nature yet waits to be revealed. Meanwhile Act 2 shows instead the malevolent plots of the “wicked” two elder sister and how the wish to crush their father, King Lear down to the very bottom.
As mentioned before the audience most certainly feels sympathy towards at the start of the play. Since the very start everyone knows who will receive the largest domain of the kingdom, Cordelia. Since King Lear “loves her the most” when the sisters flatter the king one does not feel disgusted the audience understand the empty flattery and knows that is what King Lear wants since he is vain. As Kent puts it “nor are those empty hearted whose low sounds reverbs no hollowness” who only “love” their father only when it is convenient. Thus the audience grasps something about Regan and Goneril, they are deeply
Ambitious and form them most of Lear’s troubles will surge. Finally at the end of Scene 1 it is concluded the calamity they will bring as they plot to “do something” towards Lear. Here even Shakespeare changes its style instead of writing in verse as usually it changes to prose. This new style indicates that they are low characters and when I refers to “low” I mean morally low.
The tragedy of the play begins to unfold in Act II. It is now becoming clear to everyone that Lear has made a mistake in handing over his power to Goneril and Regan. Lear’s major error is that, in stepping down from the throne, he has also given up all of his power to those who do not actually love him. He no longer has the power to his daughters, each of whom is now a queen over half of Britain. Regan for example...