King Lear

Goneril Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Lear's vicious older daughter, who is the first to flatter him in the power-transfer ceremony and the first to insult him afterwards, throwing him and his knights out of her house. Goneril's ruthless temperament contrasts with that of her husband, the Duke of Albany. In the end, she plots against Albany, and even against her former ally, her sister Regan, out of lust for Edmund.

Goneril Quotes in King Lear

The King Lear quotes below are all either spoken by Goneril or refer to Goneril. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of King Lear published in 2004.
Act 1, scene 3 Quotes
"Old fools are babes again."
Related Characters: Goneril (speaker), King Lear
Page Number: 1.3.20
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, scene 2 Quotes
"The nature which contemns its origin
Cannot be bordered certain in itself."
Related Characters: Albany (speaker), Goneril
Page Number: 4.2.41-42
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Goneril Character Timeline in King Lear

The timeline below shows where the character Goneril appears in King Lear. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Old Age Theme Icon
Lear enters with Albany, Cornwall, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, and their attendants. Having sent Gloucester to fetch Cordelia's suitors, the lords of... (full context)
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Old Age Theme Icon
...Lear calls upon each of his daughters to state how much she loves him. First, Goneril insists that she loves her father "dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty" (1.1.61); Lear awards... (full context)
Act 1, scene 3
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
At Goneril's palace, where Lear has been spending his first month after giving up power, Goneril complains... (full context)
Act 1, scene 4
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Fooling and Madness Theme Icon
At this point, Goneril storms on stage, irritated. She blows up at Lear, criticizing the Fool and all of... (full context)
Act 1, scene 5
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Lear explains what happened with Goneril to Kent (who is still disguised as Cauis), and then sends Kent to deliver a... (full context)
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Fooling and Madness Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
...himself, Lear is teased by his Fool, who predicts that Regan will be as like Goneril as "a crab […] to a crab" (1.5.18). Meanwhile, Lear begins to rave, fearing that... (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
...each other, waiting for responses to the letters that they brought Regan (from Lear and Goneril, respectively). Kent picks a fight with Oswald, calling him a "son and heir of a... (full context)
Act 2, scene 4
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Old Age Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
...freed Kent from the stocks, Cornwall and Regan receive Lear. Lear explains his grievances against Goneril. However, Regan takes her sister's side: "O sir, you are old." (165). Insisting that he... (full context)
Act 3, scene 3
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
...inside, Gloucester confides in Edmund that he does not like the "unnatural dealing" (3.3.2) that Goneril and Regan have shown to their father. Edmund agrees. Gloucester then tells Edmund that there... (full context)
Act 3, scene 6
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Fooling and Madness Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
...down, announcing that they are the jury for an imaginary trial of the "she-foxes" (24) Goneril and Regan, which he persists carrying out as Kent entreats him to rest and Edgar... (full context)
Act 3, scene 7
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Cornwall enters with Regan, Goneril, Edmund and servants. Handing Goneril the letter with news that the army of France has... (full context)
Act 4, scene 2
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Having traveled from Gloucester's—now Edmund's—castle, Goneril and Edmund arrive at Goneril's palace. Oswald emerges, reporting that Albany is "changed" (2.1.4) and... (full context)
Act 4, scene 5
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Back at Gloucester's former palace, widowed Regan questions Oswald about Goneril and Edmund. She pauses to explain that Edmund himself has gone to kill Gloucester—whose pitiful... (full context)
Act 4, scene 6
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Fooling and Madness Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
...Gentleman for an update. He reports that the battle between the British forces of Edmund, Goneril, and Regan and the French force led by Cordelia is imminent. (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
...join theirs. Regan, meanwhile, pesters Edmund about whether or not he has ever slept with Goneril. Edmund tells Regan not to fear, just as Albany and Goneril approach. Goneril remarks to... (full context)
Act 5, scene 3
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
...taken away to prison. Cordelia, speaking with Lear, wonders if they should ask to see Goneril and Regan. But Lear, delighted to be with Cordelia again, says no. He says that... (full context)