The Parallel Plots of Shakespeare's King Lear
Many works of literature contain parallel plots in which similar actions taken by various characters precipitate identical results. Upon careful examination, it is evident that “such plots exist in Shakespeare's play King Lear with the deaths of King Lear, Cordelia, Edmund, and Goneril, among others” (Curry 17). The betrayal of a commitment to an authority figure is the cause behind each of the above characters' death. Likewise, the consistent loyalty of Kent, the Fool, and Edgar is rewarded when they outlive their traitorous peers.
King Lear, who as a divine-right king derives his power from God, betrays God's will when he transfers his kingdom to his daughters, Reagan and Goneril. When Lear states that his purpose in doing so is "To shake all cares and business from our age, / Conferring them on younger strengths while we / Unburdened crawl toward death." (Shakespeare 2) he declares his intention to delegate his power so that he is no longer bothered with great responsibilities. In this self-serving act, Lear is unfaithful to God, whose wish it was for Lear to rule for a lifetime. Later, God's wrath is apparent in Act III Scene II when Lear speaks to a tempest, a manifestation of God's anger at the strife within the kingdom, and tells it to "Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! Spout rain! / Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters" (Shakespeare 60). Evidently, upon seeing the tempest, Lear is aware that he made a mistake and betrayed God's trust. In speaking to the tempest, he asks for God to correct the situation by causing Reagan and Goneril to fall from power. As a result of his unfaithfulness to God, Lear dies of a broken heart in the end of the play when he discovers that his daughter Cordelia was hanged.
Cordelia is yet another character that suffers death as a result of her disloyalty. In the beginning of the play, Lear is in the process of dividing up his kingdom and confides in Kent that Goneril, Reagan, and Cordelia will each receive equal shares. Also, Lear decides that Cordelia should receive the more desirable central region of the kingdom. Before announcing his decision, Lear requests that each of his daughters declare her undying love for him in order to receive a portion of the kingdom. While Goneril and Reagan tell Lear what he wants to hear, rebellious Cordelia refuses to play along in Lear's game and declares: "I love your Majesty/ According to my bond, no more nor less" (Shakespeare 4). Lear interprets Cordelia's unwillingness to embellish as disloyalty and, as a result, grants her no land and disowns her.
Cordelia's refusal to declare her extraordinary love for her father was only her first traitorous act. After losing the land that was to serve as her dowry, Cordelia is married to the King of France. Cordelia owes the King of France much gratitude since marrying a bride without a dowry was a virtually...