Character Analysis Of Cordelia In Shakespeare's King Lear

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Character Analysis of Cordelia

In Act 1 Scene 1 of King Lear by Shakespeare, due to his age, King Lear decides to split his land amongst his daughters. In order to decide who receives which parcel of land he asks his daughters to proclaim their love for him, in which to expose who is most deserving of a part of the kingdom. Though both her sisters, Goneril and Regan, speak of their great love for their father, Cordelia barely says anything at all. Cordelia being absent, silent, or doing nothing at all is a reoccurring theme throughout the play. She is most active in Act 1 Scene 1 but does not show up again until Act 4 and then dying in Act 5. Though the emptiness in Cordelia’s actions point to a greater theme of nothingness prevalent in the
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An example of these speech patterns is, “obey you, love you, and most honor you” (1.1.98). She is silent on stage as her father gives all the land away to her sisters, as Kent stands up against the king’s mistake, and as her suitors enter. After her father has disowned her and insulted her to her suitors she finally tells her father, “If for I want that glib and oily art, to speak and purpose not,” meaning she choses her words wisely (1.1.226-227). She then continues to say, “But even for want of that for which I am richer: a still-soliciting eye and such a tongue as I am glad I have not, though not to have it hath lost me in your liking” (1.1.232-235). She truly believes that a lack of words makes her honorable, even if it causes her to lose her father’s love. She has the philosophy that saying little and meaning what you say is more important than being ostentatious. In Shakespeare’s plays, the blunt, concise people are usually the ones who possess the wisdom and truth that most of the characters cannot …show more content…
The last thing she says before leaving toward the end of Act 1 Scene 1 is another prophetic jab at her sisters, “Time shall unfold what pleated cunning hides: who covers faults, at last with shame derides. Well may you prosper!” (1.1.282-284). This almost seems out of character compared to Cordelia’s previous short, simply put, lines, but after this line she exits with France to not appear again until Act 4. Though she is such an important main character, she is absent for most of the play, which in and of itself represents the nothingness which Cordelia herself represents.
This idea of nothingness is carried well throughout the play, beginning with Cordelia’s conversation with her the king in Act 1 Scene 1, which set the scene for the rest of the play. This word “nothing” greatly affects Cordelia’s relationship with her father. By having nothing to say she means that her love is too deep for words, but Lear takes it to mean, “nothing comes from nothing” which is an old philosophical proverb. This lack of communication and lack of many other concepts throughout the play causes all the loss and turmoil Cordelia and Lear face. Cordelia’s family perceived her as nothing throughout most of the play due to her absence, silence, or lack of

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