King Lear

Essay by linnmattsson December 2014

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King Lear decides to divide his kingdom in three among his three daughters, for them to govern together. Before he gives them his beloved kingdom, he decides to test them by questioning how much they truly love him, so that he isn't misled about their affections. We've chosen to read an excerpt from the very first scene of Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear. This scene is vital for the whole story. It includes a dialogue between King Lear and his youngest daughter Cordelia, and leads to the banishing of her, because she doesn't give him the flattering answer of a description of her fatherly love. The story is based on the rejecting of his beloved and most truthful daughter, and is followed by betrayal and powerful battles. We've also translated this part of the manuscript to a more modern English version.

Cordelia - Then poor Cordelia! And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's more ponderous than my tongue.

King Lear - To thee and thine hereditary ever remain this ample third of our fair kingdom; No less in space, validity, and pleasure, than that conferr'd on Goneril. Now, our joy, although the last, not least; to whose young love the vines of France and milk of Burgundy strive to be interess'd; what can you say to draw a third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.

Cordelia - Nothing, my lord.

King Lear - Nothing?

Cordelia - Nothing.

King Lear - Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.

Cordelia - Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth: I love your majesty according to my bond; nor more nor less.

King Lear - How, how, Cordelia! Mend your speech a little, lest it may mar your fortunes.

Cordelia - Good...