‘Discuss the relationship between Cordelia and Lear and compare it to the relationship between Edgar and Gloucester’.

Topics: William Shakespeare, King Lear, Ian McKellen Pages: 3 (1198 words) Published: October 29, 2013
‘Discuss the relationship between Cordelia and Lear and compare it to the relationship between Edgar and Gloucester’. Written in 1605 but first performed in 1606 on Boxing Day in front of King James, ‘King Lear’ is a typical Shakespearean tragedy which focuses around the themes of family and the disruption of natural order. The play has strong Aristotelian influences as the protagonist, King Lear, enters the play in a position of great importance through external forces which are out of his control as he is a king, and is also responsible, to some extent, for his own downfall and the disruption of not only the kingdom but of his whole family. This can be seen in Act 1, Scene 1 where Lear foolishly uses a “love test” to divide his kingdom between his three daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia, ‘Which of thou doth love us most?’ Straightaway the Jacobean audience at the time would have been alarmed by Lear’s behaviour as it was not the conventional behaviour of a King, something which Shakespeare intended to act as a message to the newly appointed King James. As a result of this, Lear ends up disowning his one truly loyal daughter Cordelia and rewarding his disloyal daughters as he is unsatisfied by Cordelia’s lack of flattery compared to her sisters who replied when questioned with, ‘Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter’. In contrast to the exaggerated proclamations of her sisters, Cordelia answers simply with, ‘Nothing’ and goes on to state, ‘I love your majesty according to my bond, nothing more, nothing less’. Unlike the other two sisters, Cordelia is truthful of her affections for her father which implies that she unlike the others has good intentions. From the opening scene, Cordelia symbolizes purity and goodness. This is reflected in particularly in Ian Mckellen’s interpretation of the play in which Cordelia is dressed all in white implying purity whereas Goneril and Regan are dressed all in black, implying evil and corruption. On the...
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