King Lear

As Benjamin Franklin once declared, “Well done is better than well said,” Cordelia imparts this to the reader as soon as the play begins. In Shakespeare’s play King Lear, Cordelia is one of King Lear’s three daughters. Not only is she the youngest, but Cordelia is also King Lear’s favorite daughter. Of his three daughters she is by far the most honest, respectful and caring towards her father even after how he treats her. At first, King Lear and Cordelia have a great relationship, but that changes rapidly as the play commences. When King Lear divides his inheritance between the three daughters in a very conceited and childish way. Goneril and Regan isolate themselves and have completely different personalities than their other sister. Soliloquys provide a big component in Shakespeare’s writing and appear consistently throughout the play. Cordelia, a protagonist in Shakespeare’s play King Lear has a crazy, complicated family, yet the reader realizes that she is unique and the only loyal, civil and honest family member; however it is difficult to be the only one that cares about holding your family together and balancing everything; which results in her family having many problems and not unconditionally love each other how a family should.

Imagine if a father disowned his daughter because she wouldn’t answer a foolish question. King Lear does this to Cordelia, in fact he automatically banishes her from his palace. In Scene One of the play, King Lear says, “Tell me, my daughters, (Since now we will divest us both of rule, Interest of territory, cares of state), Which of you shall we say doth love us most? That we our largest bounty may extend where nature doth with merit challenge…” King Lear’s demand for his daughters to express their love for him as his method to divide up their inheritance shows his vanity and conceited mindset. Regan and Goneril flatter their father when they are told to express their love for him simply because they want his power and money. However, Cordelia gives no answer and doesn’t pity her father when he asks her to express her love for him. Cordelia believes that she should express her love for her father through actions rather than through words. In the play this exemplifies the idea that one’s behavior is stronger than what they say, when Lear throws a tantrum since his favorite daughter will not tell him how much she loves him. Lear demonstrates this idea because he conveys this powerful king, and loving father through his speeches, but his words are meaningless and banishing her shows his childish behavior. Cordelia’s banishment negatively results in the end of the King and Kent’s interaction. Even though Kent is one of the King’s most loyal friends, Kent does not approve the King’s immature decision of banishing his only faithful daughter. I agree with Cordelia because words can be spoken but never actually acted upon, but if one backs up their words with their actions then you know they truly mean it. One example in reality is when someone says that they love you, but doesn’t treat you with respect or love, making their love meaningless. Throughout the play King Lear discovers this for himself when his daughters betray him and Cordelia is the only one that is still there for him, even after banishing her from his palace. Cordelia’s actions portray that she indeed loves her father and will always be there for him, no matter his actions. This demonstrates the way family members should behave, with an unconditional love for one another, and not just say that you love one another to gain something from it. Lear’s family doesn’t portray this unconditional love whatsoever.

The three sisters Goneril, Regan and Cordelia do not all get along. Cordelia is an outlier or the black sheep of her sisters because the other two are hypocritical and have complete different personalities than Cordelia. For example, when their father King Lear asks them to express their love for him, Goneril says, “Sir, I love you more than world can wield the matter; dearer than eye-sight, space and liberty; beyond what can be valued rich or rare; no less than life, with grace, health, beauty and honour; as much as child e’er lov’d, or father found…” This is an example of how Goneril and Regan say these compliments because they wanted their father’s money and power. This is also shown in the movie where Cordelia is sitting at the opposite side of the table than her sisters and father. Cordelia sitting the farthest away from her father portrays that she does not need to be sycophantic to her father and loves her father no matter how much of his power and money he gives her. Cordelia actually loves her father for who he is not for what he has, symbolizing her unconditional love.

Without a mother in the family, King Lear must not only be the girl’s father, but also be a motherly figure. However, he does not seem to play the role of a mother very well. A mother unconditionally loves her family and is always there for them no matter what the circumstance is. A mother also maintains the balance between a family and holds everything together. Lear doesn’t have any of these motherly qualities; instead, he banishes his own daughter, separates the family and causes the family to go crazy. Goneril and Regan are very hypocritical, and seem to not include Cordelia in many of their activities. However, I highly doubt that Cordelia would want to take part in their mischievous ways. In the end, Goneril and Regan end up betraying each other and fighting over their infatuation for Edmund. Having a motherly figure in the family could have managed the balance of this family’s madness taking place. It is difficult to keep a family together when only one member truly cares and tries to keep the kinship alive. This conveys that the kinship with Cordelia and her family isn’t strong, and they have no intimate connections with one another that express their family bonds.

Throughout Shakespeare’s plays there are many soliloquys and monologues, which create a major impact on the play. Lear has a few soliloquys throughout the play, which demonstrate his craziness and childish ways. These also show that he is lonely now since he banished the only daughter that truly loved him and gave away his inheritance to his disloyal daughters. The soliloquys demonstrate that their family is separated and no longer have any connections and they have all gone insane. A quote from Act Two Scene Four: “I will not trouble thee, my child farewell. We’ll no more meet, no more see one another; But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter; or rather a disease that’s in my flesh, which I must needs call mine…” In this quote Lear is talking to his daughter Regan and proves the madness that is involved with this family. It confirms this because he is telling his own daughter that she is a corrupt disease in his blood and that they will no longer see each other. This proves that there is madness with their family because there is obviously no connection within each other since they are willing to no longer communicate with one another. This also expresses Lear’s childish ways because he demonstrates that he isn’t mature enough to deal with his daughters who he should love no matter the consequences and instead his solution is to just never see them and not solve the problem. King Lear also had the same dynamics that a normal play does including the exposition, rising action, climax, and falling action. The play came to a final ending when everyone passed away. While reading the play it was horrific when they all died especially Cordelia because she is so loyal and just wants the best for her family. Sadly, it was too bad that the rest of the family couldn’t accommodate that.

Shakespeare’s play King Lear connects to kinship and blood lines and expresses how all families don’t have a great balance and are civil to each other. Cordelia, one of King Lear’s three daughters, displays one of the positive members of the family and how people related through bloodlines should really be towards one another. She expressed her love for her family through what she did, not through simply words, which could be meaningless. This demonstrates that family members normally have an unconditional love for each other, but in the play the kinship between these family members did not contain this love. Cordelia is the only one who tries to maintain the balance within her family, but that wasn’t enough before her whole family not only betrayed her but each other and became insane. It must be difficult being the only civil one in your family, in King Lear, Cordelia experiences something not many people go through, her father banishes her from his palace, her sisters always exclude her and she doesn’t have a mother in her life; still with all this madness she still loves her father unconditionally and when his other daughters betray him she is still there, and loyal towards him.

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