Flattery Holds The Key
It's a Saturday night and
you want to go out for the evening. To do this you need the car, what
do you do? Flattery is the way to go: " Mom, did you lose
weight? You look amazing! Is that a new hair color? New outfit?
" Your mom is so flattered that when you ask for the car she
doesn't need to think twice before she hands you the keys. From that
point on, you know that whenever you want something all you have to do is put
on the charm, flash that big smile and tell a few white lies. After
this your wish is their command. Why is this? Well, as you can
see flattery will get you everywhere. Even Shakespeare knew the powers
of flattery. He portrays in flattery in the play King Lear by the
characters Regan and Goneril. It is clear that flattery makes every
goal attainable whether it be wealth, power and even the most sacred emotion
It is unimaginable that a father would divide his wealth among his children
according to their skills in flattery. All parents are supposed to love
their children at an equal level, no matter how much their child flatters
them. Which parent would think to ask their children to outdo each
other in a battle of words to win their money and material goods. This
is the case in Shakespeare's King Lear. Even in the first scene Lear is
asking his daughters which one of them loves him more. " Which of
you shall we say doth love us most? That we our largest bounty may
extend" (I,i, 52-53). With this demand of knowing who loves him
more, Lear offers a reward, all his land. This reward is key to the
show of emotion each daughter displays to please her father. His two
older daughters jump at the opportunity to compliment and flatter their
father, but their words are empty promises and lies. These two daughter
are only kind to Lear when he has money: The wise fool tells Lear that only
when there is a reward will he be treated kindly by his children.
"Fathers that wear rags/ Do make their children blind;/ But fathers that
bear bags/ Shall see their children kind"
(II,iv,48-51). Regan and Goneril feed their father pretty words
on a silver platter and Lear swallows every lie. Regan and Goneril tell
the King that their love is so deep they cannot find words to express their emotions.
The reason they do not find the words to express their love is because the
have no TRUE love to show him. Cordelia on the other hand decided to tell the
truth to Lear and not feed her father empty promises this got her nothing
"Nothing will come of nothing." (I,i,93). Lear chooses not to
give his favorite daughter anything all because unlike Regan and Goneril she
chose not to flatter him. Regan and Goneril did not stop at Lears
material goods they wanted the whole deal. Their flattery also put them
in a position to take over all of Lears powers as King.
Once Regan and Goneril received all of Lears money they continued to
want more so they decided to go for his power and title as king.
Flattery is also used for this in the real world. For example in the
business industry if you want to get a promotion what do you do? There
are two options, either you work very hard and eventually MAYBE you will be
acknowledged for your effort, which is the honest way, or you can flatter and
compliment your superior slowly becoming their acquaintance then friend and
easing yourself into a position of higher authority. Flattery holds the
key into making your life a better one and Regan and Goneril were skilled in
this art form. Once Lear had no money left and his only possession was
his title he still had some worth to the more greedy of his three daughters,
Regan and Goneril. They would not stop at anything to get all that the
king morally possessed. At first Goneril was kind to him letting him
stay in her castle, but then once she saw that no one really considered
Lear as King anymore she took away half his knights, the one thing that Lear
could show the world that he was still King.
The flattery had so affected Lear that he defended Regan when Kent says she
has put him in the stocks:
Lear: No, no, they would not!
Kent: Yes, they have.
Lear: By Jupiter, I swear no!
Kent: By Juno, I swear ay!
Lear: They durst (would not dare to) not do it;
They could not, would not do it. 'Tis worse
than murder ... (II,iv,19-23)
Lear is in denial, he does not realize what his children have done to him and
he believed it all. The words they fed him weren't as sweet as he had
believed. Although in King Lear it is wealth and power that
are more sought after. In the real world flattery is most often used in
the case of love.
"When I call you beautiful, it's cause I can. When you think I'm
sucking up, I sort of am. The little lies that make you feel good I say
more often that I should..." This verse of the song "Make You
Mad" by the Odds describes perfectly how flattery is used in love.
How do you start a relationship? You have to meet new people and the
way to do that is to pick the person up (not in the literal sense of the
word). What is a pick-up line? It is a compliment or flattery and
if someone came up to you and said something like: "Your
father must be a thief because he stole the stars from the sky
and put them in your eyes" would you not feel
flattered? Personally I would feel like queen of the world and probably
end up leaving the party or whatever place I was at with that particular
person. Even here the person might be telling you lies, but the thing
is that you never know, perhaps this person is actually telling the
truth. Flattery can help you in love because it is what lights the fire
in a relationship, without flattery what could you tell your lover.
Even the words I love you are flattery. These words are the strongest
flattery ever. Goneril and Regan knew the power of these words and used them
to their advantage. "Goneril: Sir, I love you more than word can
yield the matter..." (I,i,56). "Regan: I find she names my
very deed of love..." (I,i,73). Each sister uses the word LOVE to
suck up to Lear and is successful in that way of getting their fathers so
called love. This flattery not only got the sisters their fathers love
it also got them everything else that they wanted.
Since the day we were born we have been flattered with things like "what
a pretty baby" "WOW! You must have grown another foot since I
last saw you." . This way of being brought up brings us to believe
flattery is the way to live your life. King Lears elder daughter also
believed this and used flattery to their advantage to get their father's
wealth, power and love. Although on occasion flattery is actually the
truth, on the most part flattery is a lie. So if in reality we lie when
we flatter others, aren't we at the same time lying to ourselves???