The Forgotten Daughter

The story of King Lear is an interesting one, and it follows a myriad of characters and their development as they face the challenges of living in a monarchy. One particular character however stood out to me, King Lear’s youngest daughter, Cordelia. At the beginning of the play, Cordelia is more or less banished from the kingdom, due to her unwillingness to exaggerate when it came to her love for her father. Even at the start, we as readers, or the audience, can see that Cordelia is written to be honest. However, we can also see that she will not be rewarded or even recognized for this honesty, which is where we can see the first glimpses of a possible tragedy in King Lear.

Unfortunately, throughout the play, we do not get to see a lot of Cordelia, as she has been effectively shunned from her family and her life. However, as the play goes on, King Lear learns the gravity of his mistake, in terms of entrusting his eldest two daughters with his kingdom, simply because they were full of kind words, which fueled his ego. The idea of a tragedy in itself is to see these seemingly random and tragic events happen, while also keeping in mind the intentional lesson that is behind many of these events. For example, as Lear is slowly going mad, he begins to reflect on where he went wrong, and he realizes how his treatment of Cordelia should have differed. Needless to say, Lear grew as a person, but back to Cordelia.

Personally, I believe everyone could learn a thing or two from Cordelia simply based on her limited actions throughout the play. We mainly see Cordelia at the beginning of the play and at the end of the play. Although throughout this time Cordelia has gained recognition and power, being the queen of France, she returns with the same humility and grace she initially had. One of the more important lessons that can be taken from King Lear is that of humility, and how wrong things can go when we as humans start relying on our egos and greed to fuel our livelihood. It is important, I think, to take note of Cordelia’s humility, and how much concern she still had for her father and his wellbeing upon her return, despite his treatment of her being so harsh as to banish her completely. Although there was no happy ending, there are many lessons we can take away from King Lear, even more specifically from the individual characters we are introduced to.

A Short Passage on the Duke of Kent

Kent was my favorite character in King Lear. I found his character to be compelling and his ideology interesting. one of my favorite Kent moments was in act 2 scene two, wherein William Shakespeare channels all of his inner rage towards the mortal plane to write a string of insults spanning half a page, of course spoken by Kent, talking to Oswald. Believing him to be a spineless weasel willing to betray the king for power, he pulls a sword on Oswald(a nobleman) and risks is life for his ideals. Kent here really demonstrates a central point of his character, that being adherence to royal authority. one of Kent’s most important traits is his loyalty to the king, even implying that he killed himself after Lear died. after being banished just for speaking his mind, Kent returns to the king to serve him disguised as a commoner. he stays with the king, even when everyone but his fool has abandoned him and he’s alone in the rain. but this fierce loyalty is one lens from which to view what i believe to be the central theme of the book, being power and how one loses it. Kent, who remained unflinchingly loyal to the end, was an exception to the rule as the crafty Edmund, Goneril, and Regan all plotted against him once they felt he no longer had enough power to oppose their attempts to subvert him and his authority.

Albany and Power

Throughout King Lear, there is a fight for power. Regan and Goneril become obsessed with gaining all the power that they can and using it to their benefit. Edmund also becomes power-hungry and betrays Gloucester and Edgar in order to rise in the ranks. In the beginning scene, Goneril and Regan express their love for Lear in order to gain land but they discard Lear as soon as they receive it. However, Albany is portrayed as being indecisive. While Goneril fights for power, Albany makes no moves to use his power for which Goneril often criticizes him.

During the second half of the play, Albany shows his lack of interest in power when he berates Goneril for being a bad daughter to Lear and comparing her to an animal. Albany further expresses his distaste for having power after the death of Goneril and Regan. “For us, we will resign, during the life of this old Majesty, to him our absolute power; you to your rights, with boot and such addition as your Honors have more merited” (V.iii.363-366). Albany wants to restore all of the power to Lear despite having the opportunity to have it all for himself. Albany continues to convey his dislike when he tells Edgar and Kent to “rule in this realm, and the gored state sustain” (V.iii.389). Albany remains dedicated to his morals by refusing to take the power from Lear as Goneril and Regan did. This goes against traditional gender roles as Albany can be described as a coward and Goneril is seen as the villain for stealing power. Albany becomes one of the only people left at the end of the play and is viewed to be a good person, almost saint-like. While Albany does not conform to traditional gender roles, he succeeds and gains power while acting with female stereotypes.

The Fool.

Jester’s roles in a kingdom are seldom admired roles in stories or in history. When you think of a jester, you tend to think of a clownish comedian whose sole purpose is to entertain the rich. In most cases that is true. Jesters are traditionally a way for the rich to entertain themselves whenever they please and the jester must do so. So it’s interesting to see Shakespear take such an alternative route when introducing the character ¨The Fool¨.

Key moments and facts | King Lear | Royal Shakespeare Company

The Fool still plays the role of any other jester to the king. That doesn’t necessarily change. He is meant to entertain the king whenever the king pleases and he must do so all the time. What makes The Fool different from other jesters is its importance to the audience. The Fool is our entertainer as the reader. Instead of The Fool telling stories and acting funny for us, he gives us insight on less surface-level topics that surround the king’s mind. It is fair to say that whether The Fool is real or just the king’s conscious, he knows everything about the king. As the king’s protector, the fool is an advocate for all of King Lear’s actions. We see this most prevalently in the storm scene where The Fool stands in the rain and gives the audience a full speech on King Lear’s actions. This is Shakespeare’s subtle way of getting what he needs to say said. Instead of having Lear unnaturally explain his genuine thoughts and ideas at one time to the audience, The Fool is our entertainer and does these things for us.

In my opinion, I think The Fools character is a vital piece in ¨King Lear¨ because his character creates a flow in the story that is almost a comic relief to the audience in this tragic story. So in the end it is safe to say that The Fool is the reader’s jester.

The man who never quit

King Lear was a story of patience and loyalty. It really demonstrates a complex and morality-based play that will forever be timeless. There is this recurring motif throughout the play that comments on the value of enduring pain plus the perseverance through that pain. A character in King Lear that truly embodies these values is Edgar. Edgar really struck me as a character as soon as he was deceived in the first act. Right away, he was thrown aside by his brother, Edmund, and even unowned by Gloucester, his father, just so Edmund could become the heir over Edgar.

Edgar and Edmund represent this brotherly bond that is twisted by a very relevant power dynamic: Natural vs Unnatural. While this dynamic is seen in many other aspects of the play, it is most prevalent in Edmunds craving to receive power over Edgar, who has the “natural” power. I think while it’s important to notice the wrongs within society that values natural over unnatural, it should be pointed out that Edgar, throughout the play, is actually able to be placed on the same footing as Edmund, who had been treated poorly his whole life. Edgar was pushed, brutally into an unnatural state where he struggled through things we could not even imagine experiencing. He was ripped of his identity and lived as a beggar in order to survive and still gain knowledge of the kingdom. Throughout the hardships he encountered, his patience was admirable. Not once did he give up nor lose his drive to get back to where he was. This is what I like most about Edgar–his ability to face the unnatural with heart and passion. Another admirable thing about Edgar was his loyalty and love for his father. Edgar knew that his father was innocent and just trying to be the best father he could be, even if he was easily deceived.

Edgar proves that with a good cause, people can preserve through the worst of situations.