In the play King Lear by William Shakespeare, Cordelia is singley the most unique character portrayed in the play. Unlike other characters she is made to be a saint. On the contrary, she shares a few characteristic with her father. In the beginning of the play when King Lear ask each of his daughters to declare their love for him in exchange for part of his kingdom, Cordelia chooses not to participate in such acts of buying her fathers love. Alike King Lear, Cordelia holds great pride, which is why their is a battle of the prides when Cordelia chose not to express her love because she believes she should not have to say it, he should just know it. Although Cordelia might share common characteristics with her father–King Lear–she does not share similarities with her sisters.
When Cordelia chose to not trade love for power because of her pride, her sisters did not hesitate to go above and beyond to exaggerate just how much they loved King Lear. Ironically, Cordelia was the only daughter of King Lear’s that genuinely loved her father; yet, she was the only daughter to not only fail to inherit part of the kingdom, but to get banned from the kingdom. Not only did Cordelia love her father, she was covertly in love with her father. Signs of Cordelia’s secret love for her father can be seen as she expresses, I am sure my love’s more ponderous than my tongue(Shakespeare 1.1.59-60.) Meaning that she loves her father more than she can put into words. Cordelia shared a strong bond with her father; thus, it makes sense she loved her father so deeply. Right from the start of the play it is obvious that despite having sisters Cordelia doesn’t fit in with them, so instead she made a friend in her father. Cordelia loves her father so much that throughout the play Cordelia only actions are done in order to benefit her father.
When Cordelia returns at the end of the play she had forgotten about her husband and her sole mission was to care for her father even though he recently abandoned her. Despite, being totally abandoned and disowned, Cordelia still wanted to be there for her father. Cordelia states in the play, ‘Tis known before. Our preparation stands. In expectation of them. O dear father, It is thy business that I go about. Therefore great France My mourning and importuned tears hath pitied(Shakespeare 4.4.23-26.) This translates to say that after begging and crying Cordelia convinced her husband to allow her to take the army and she is ready to fight for her father. Soon after, Cordelia went out to search for her father, taking her husbands army with her.
Not many people would drop everything and leave behind their spouse to help someone who abandoned them. Cordelia really did love her father more than anything. Cordelia was a detrimental factor in making the play. Without Cordelia, it would completely change the plot of the play. Cordelia appears only in the first and last parts in the play, yet throughout the whole play she is left in our minds as the good to come. Cordelia is the small piece of good sprinkled in the play. She allows us to foresee good in the dramatic and harsh moments throughout the play. Her character pulls at our hearts in her heroic manner seen towards the end of the play when she strives to save her father and returns to break our hearts at her sad passing that hits us with tears. Cordelia who takes on the role of an sympathetic outcast at the beginning of they play, becomes a strong, heroic individual by the end of the play.
In every play, story, or movie, there is always an underdog who everyone is rooting for, and in King Lear, Cordelia is that underdog. Shakespeare, makes this play whole by introducing her briefly at the beginning, and although we don’t see her until the last part of the play, we are aware of her presence and root for her appearance throughout the rest of the play. Her character keeps both readers and viewers hooked on finishing the play with the hope of her reappearance. Cordelia is a key device in the making of the play. The theme of William Shakespeare’s play titled King Lear is the masculine role of females.
It is simple to view how both Regan and Goneril portray the masculine role of women throughout the play using aggression and power, but the masculine role is less present in role of Cordelia. Cordelia shows masculinity in the leading of the French Army. She did this by revealing her power she held over many men in war. As a woman Cordelia was a unique leader because not many women lead armies into war. Despite the other masculine roles of women that were portrayed in the play, Cordelia was not aggressive or hostile bully; instead, Cordelia took on the role of a heroic and kind gentlemen. Works Cited Greenblatt, Stephen. Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed., vol. 1, W&W Norton & Company, 2012, New York. Shakespeare, William. King Lear. Open Source Shakespeare, George Mason University, 2018, opensourceshakespeare.org.
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