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 love.
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???