A charactor study of Cordelia from Shakespeare's KING LEAR

Essay by camrostiA-, January 2004

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Her Role:

·Was she there as an angel-like character who made the distinction between good and evil more visible?

·Was she just thrown in as a little goody- goody that did no wrong, and maybe, to some degree, we were supposed to despise?

·Or was she there to make us more aware of a crumbling society where many things were opposite to what one might think it should be, with evil generally prevailing over the good (which to some degree is prophetic to today's society)?

There are many theories surrounding this character in particular, and no one has reached a definitive conclusion. The best one I can come up with, however, is simply the answer "Yes," to all of the above.

Definitive Scenes:

Cordelia does not appear in the play apart from at the beginning and end. Act I Scene I shows the contrast between herself and her sisters and also establishes Lear's shallow and rash nature (the love test).

Her decency is highlighted in Act IV, Scene VII, when she is at Lear's side and he slowly awakes and thinks of her as an angel. He asks the "angel" for Cordelia to forgive him, but according to Cordelia, there is no need to do so.

Her eventual demise (she was hung) is not actually shown on stage - it is merely reported to the King who breaks down and cries. This, despite not being played, shows how much Lear loves his daughter, and shows how he has learned to express his emotions (he was previously "against" tears, claiming they were "women's weapons").

Important Linguistics:

"What shall Cordelia speak?/ Love, and be silent" (I.i.63-64). These words echo a reminiscent time when loyalty to the king and one's father was paramount. Cordelia does not have many lines in which one...