In King Lear, the sisters Goneril and Regan are often seen to be rather… evil. They do after all turn away their father from their houses. But each time I see it I’m a little bothered by the portrayal. It seems to me that they are resigned to be cruel from the start after they get their land from dear papa.
I’m interested in seeing the sisters plead with dear dad to come to his senses about how many knights he needs, not cruelly deny his demands. I’m always more interested in seeing someone fight for what they want from someone, especially a loved one. It’d be far more moving to see the sisters fight with their father to realize his folly until the point where he runs off into the stormy night… and then give him up as a lost cause. Not before. They might not be the best people, but they surely have some respect for their father as well as hope for his wits.
It seems to me that Lear’s daughters are not quite as wicked as we sometimes see them, but rather in Lear’s mind. Sure, they do some pretty crazy things later on, but that arises AFTER they give up on their father. Then their ambitions and jealousies can take hold of them.
Has anyone else seen productions on stage or screen of Lear with “evil” sisters? And have you seen it a different way? And reading the text alone how do you perceive their actions?