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.