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King Lear: The Nature of Good and Evil

            King Lear, written by William Shakespeare, is a tragedy that explores the battle of good and evil and personal transformation. This story revolves around the continuous battle of good (King Lear's one truly good daughter Cordelia) and evil (Edmund, the son of Gloucester) within the theme of human nature. The theme of personal transformation can be seen in the character change of King Lear from the beginning of the play to the end.
             The first introduction to "good nature" is Cordelia, King Lear's youngest daughter. Cordelia's purely good nature is tested at the beginning of the play. Her father, King Lear, is about to step down as king and divide his throne among his three daughters. Lear has his daughters compete for their inheritance. He insists that they profess their love for him. Regan and Goneril, Lear's older daughters, use flattery to prove their love. Cordelia, however, says that her love cannot be put into words, and tries to convince her father that her sisters are simply trying to deceive him. Cordelia could have easily satisfied Lear by telling him exactly what her sisters said, yet she would not sway from her morals and good nature. As a result of her genuine love for her father, but inability to verbalize her feelings, she was banished and the kingdom was divided between her two deceitful sisters. Eventually, they completely disowned their father and consequently, he was driven insane.
             Later in the play, Cordelia once again has an encounter with her father. Although she has the opportunity to turn her back against the man that banished her for her honesty, Cordelia still loves Lear and shows compassion for her father's misfortune, just reiterating her truly good nature, despite the evil she encounters. .
             Evil is represented throughout the play by Lear's two eldest daughters, but more significantly portrayed by Edmund, the illegitimate son of Gloucester. When Edmund learns of Regan and Goneril's betrayal of the king, he gains inspiration and decides to develop his own scheme to deceive his father and brother.

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