Goneril is Lear’s eldest daughter, and the wife of the Duke of Albany.
She knows how to play the court games and speak as her father requires when he asks for avowals of love, and is rewarded for this ability with a third of the kingdom, which becomes half when her youngest sister Cordelia fails the test. Though she advises Cordelia to obey her husband in all things, she despises her own husband as a weakling, and is not shy about reminding him that hers is the royal blood, not his, and that all of his authority was acquired by marrying her. She has always recognized that her little sister Cordelia was their father’s favorite, and has little regard for Lear. Exasperated by Lear and his train’s continued presence and wild behavior in her house, by his unwillingness to recognize that he has given up his powers, and by what she considers his senility, she insults him into leaving in a rage. When her husband asks what’s going on, she tells him to mind his own business. She plans with her sister Regan to make their father more manageable, and callously leaves him to himself when he rushes out into the storm. She is a cruel woman, quick to think of blinding a traitor. Sent by Cornwall to raise her husband Albany and his army, she is accompanied by Edmund, with whom she falls quite in love, finding him a real man compared to Albany. Hearing that Cornwall is dead, she is worried that Regan, being now free, will be able to snare Edmund. She sends the bastard a letter, requesting that he kill Albany for her, Edmund now being her only aim in life. To be absolutely sure of catching him, she poisons her sister. Faced with the fact that Albany has her letter to Edmund, she tries to claim her royal status, but finds she has no way out but stabbing herself.