In King Lear by William Shakespeare, both the women and men continuously defy their own families for a shot at power. At the very beginning of the play, Lear divides all of his power as King and his land up to his three daughters. However, each one soon disappoints Lear greatly and Lear becomes outraged. With Cordelia not pronouncing her love, and Goneril and Regan breaking their promise of housing him, Lear watches his daughters betray him, and his inability to believe what he is witnessing pushes him towards the edge of insanity.
When Gloucester becomes aware of Lear’s daughters turning against him, he as a loyal friend, decides to help Lear in spite of putting his own life in danger. When Regan finds out that Gloucester is trying to help Lear, she gets her husband, Cornwall, to help gouge Gloucester’s eyes out and accuse him of treason. Cornwall and Regan speak to each other, “Blind him I say”, ” Hard, hard, O filthy traitor”( III. iv. 38-39). This shows again the signs of second-hand betrayal from Regan to her father by making sure he receives no further help.
A little Later on we are introduced to Edmund, the “bastard” who is illegitimate. Edmund frustrated that he is unable to receive any power or land due to being born out of wedlock hatches a plan to gain it. When he hears Gloucester coming towards him and Edgar, he pretends to fight Edgar. Edgar runs away, but Gloucester check on Edmund who had cut himself to make it look like Edgar had injured him. “Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion of my more fiere endeavor”(II.i. 36-37). He tells his father that Edgar was planning a plot to kill him and he refused so Edgar punished him. Gloucester only hearing Edmund’s side, believes him and announces that Edgar should be banished. Edmund successfully get rids of his brother and deceives his own father for his own selfish needs.
With several characters turning their backs on their own families, gives the impression that family is not as important as power. Or at least, power can make people do nasty things to others, including to some of their own.