The way in which the daughters of this play are introduced is very telling right from the start. The father offers a reward for the one who can claim to love him the most, to profess their love for him. The two eldest daughters are the ones who find this their opportunity to seize as much as possible while the youngest simply states that she cannot express to love him in such words as her sisters have. She states that she loves her father just as much as a daughter should while also making the point that her sisters would be unable to have husbands if they did indeed love their father as much as they proclaim to. These are all important points to take notice of.
While Goneril and Regan both go wild with flattering their father and therefore are in position to take over much of the land and power their father possesses, the contrast between their remarks and Cordelia’s shows how false their words are. To profess one’s love in such a way would make sense if it were to a person’s true love in this case. The overwhelming adulation from the eldest two daughters is an instant tell of their falseness. It’s as though they are using their words as masks in order to hide their hideous truths of being greedy and self-serving. Cordelia doesn’t hide anything, she is quite forward about her feelings of the task her father put in front of her once she’s pressed for it. It’s also important to note that Cordelia never denies her love for her father. She never claims not to love him but simply states that she loves him and there is no need for such a great and forced-upon acknowledgment of it.
Though this play does acknowledge the honesty of love wit these women, such as how the king of France finds it remarkable how open and sincere Cordelia is and therefore decides to take her as his queen, it is much more focused on the father-daughter relationship at hand. Shakespeare tends to lean more towards father-son relationships and that of lover’s entanglements, and while he still does attend to those topics in from the beginning, it’s apparent that there is a focus of father-daughter relationships as well. In my opinion, it was a great choice to start the play off with three daughters at opposing sides. Two mask their lack of humility and their intense senses of greed from their father with their words and are rewarded with power and land. All the while, the one daughter who truly loves her father and respects that she should not lend her voice to lies simply in order to please her father or to gain control of what he has offered, is the one daughter punished. The followings in act II are enough evidence to show the way in which the play will lead, what forsaken path Lear must take to learn his mistake, and how powerful one’s ego (Lear’s in this case) can be to deafen the goodness in front of oneself.