This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Shakespeare's King Lear Suffering Of Cordelia In King Lear

1503 words - 6 pages

The tragedy of Shakespeare’s King Lear is made far more tragic and painful by the presence and suffering of the king's youngest daughter, Cordelia. While our sympathy for the king is somewhat restrained by his brutal cruelty towards others, there is nothing to dampen our emotional response to Cordelia's suffering. Nothing, that is, at first glance. Harley Granville-Barker justifies her irreconcilable fate thus: "the tragic truth about life to the Shakespeare that wrote King Lear... includes its capricious cruelty. And what meeter sacrifice to this than Cordelia?"5 Yet in another passage Granville-Barker has come much closer to touching on the real explanation. I quote the passage at length.


It will be a fatal error to present Cordelia as a meek saint. She has more than a touch of her father in her. She is as proud as he is, and as obstinate, for all her sweetness and her youth. And, being young, she answers uncalculatingly with pride to his pride even as later she answers with pity to his misery. To miss this likeness between the two is to miss Shakespeare's first important dramatic effect; the mighty old man and the frail child, confronted, and each unyielding... If age owes some tolerance to youth, it may be thought too that youth owes to age and fatherhood something more--and less--than the truth...6

Again he sums it up:

Pride unchecked in Lear has grown monstrous and diseased with his years. In her youth it shows unspoiled, it is in flower. But it is the same pride.7


As in his portrayal of Desdemona, here too Shakespeare has presented a woman of beauty and culture. Her demeanor is gentle and refined though not lacking in strength or determination. Her emotions are deep, pure, loyal and enduring. Her mind is clear and idealistic. Desdemona is more of the heart, softer and more graceful, while Cordelia combines emotional goodness with a stoical will and courage born of idealism. Desdemona inherited from her father a certain narrowness and rigidity of mental outlook and an inability to see how others are affected by her actions. Likewise Cordelia has inherited from her father, who is a far more powerful figure than Brabantio, a very limited mental outlook which expresses itself because of her goodness as doctrinaire idealism and an inflexible will functioning in accordance with those ideals.


As Granville-Barker has pointed out, Cordelia possesses the same pride and obstinacy we find in Lear, only her emotions are purer, more cultured and refined than his. We have already quoted Lear's response rejecting and cursing his best loved daughter. In eloping with Othello, Desdemona infuriated her father to the point where he refused to have her re-enter his home and died of grief shortly thereafter. Though her intention was never to hurt him it comes as a mortal blow. Desdemona is only following the promptings of her heart and mind. When Cordelia refuses to make public protestations of love to her...

Find Another Essay On Shakespeare's King Lear - Suffering of Cordelia in King Lear

Catahrsis in Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

916 words - 4 pages audience with some sense of catharsis. Once again the audience naturally believe that justice has been done.There are many situations at the end of the play that make it sound like there is no sense of catharsis at all in King Lear. One such situation is the death of Cordelia. Cordelia was the nicest and most fair character in the play that didn?t do wrong to anybody. She took care of her father even after he kicked her out of his kingdom. She spoke

Analysis of shakespeare's KING LEAR

1125 words - 5 pages , Shakespeare clearly asserts that human nature is eitherentirely good, or entirely evil. Some characters experience atransformative phase, where by some trial or ordeal their natureis profoundly changed. We shall examine Shakespeare's stand onhuman nature in King Lear by looking at specific characters inthe play: Cordelia who is wholly good, Edmund who is whollyevil, and Lear whose nature is transformed by the realization ofhis folly and his descent into

Paratextuality in Shakespeare's King Lear

3319 words - 13 pages Pitching Mad Boy: How Paratextuality Mediates the Distance Between Spectators, Adaptations, and Source Texts. A popular anecdote used to introduce students and spectators to King Lear tells how, for 150 years, the stage was dominated by Nahum Tate’s adaptation, in which Lear and Cordelia are happily reconciled, and Cordelia is married off to Edgar. Here is what N.H. Hudson had to say about Tate: This shameless, this execrable piece of

King Lear's Folly in Shakespeare's King Lear

1227 words - 5 pages King Lear's Folly    In Shakespeare's King Lear, the actions of King Lear and of his daughters bring ruin and chaos to England. Social structures crumble, foreign invaders threaten the land, and, in a distinctly non-Hollywood ending, almost everyone dies tragically. The outlook is very bleak, as many of the problems are left unresolved at the end of the play: There is no one in line to assume sovereignty, and justice and virtue have not

Human Suffering in Inferno and King Lear

1911 words - 8 pages Both Shakespeare’s King Lear and Dante’s Inferno explore the reasons for, and results of, human suffering. Each work postulates that human suffering comes as a result of choices that are made: A statement that is not only applicable to the characters in each of the works, but also to the readers. The Inferno and King Lear speak universal truths about the human condition: that suffering is inevitable and unavoidable. While both King Lear and the

William Shakespeare's King Lear

1465 words - 6 pages William Shakespeare's King Lear In William Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear,the issue of sight on many levels is a recurring theme. Throughout the play Shakespeare shows that sight does not just come from the eyes. It is shown through the characters of Lear, Gloucester and how they compare to each other. Lear’s character is one that never learns what it means to see without ones eyes. Lear’s sight is hazed

Shakespeare's King Lear

1753 words - 7 pages Shakespeare's King Lear is known as one of his greatest tragedies. The story is full of misfortune, deception and death. The story also contains two plots, a main plot with King Lear, and a subplot with a character referred to as Gloucester. The main plot and subplot in King Lear may have minor differences but the two main characters of each plot share the same fundamental theme of blindness. The theme of a story is the main subject or idea the

The Wisdom of King Lear's Fool in Shakespeare's King Lear

2833 words - 11 pages The Wisdom of King Lear's Fool in Shakespeare's King Lear King Lear's fool is undoubtedly one of the wisest characters in the play. He is not only able to accurately analyze a situation which many other characters are blind to, but he is also able to foreshadow the actions of many characters and many other incidents to come. The main instruction the fool gives to the king is to beware of doing things that are unnatural, such as giving

William Shakespeare's King Lear

1641 words - 7 pages William Shakespeare's King Lear The locations in Shakespeare’s King Lear fall into three categories: inside a court, out in nature, and in-between nature and civilization. Lear himself also wavers between three states: sanity, senility, and the fine line between the two. These states of consciousness relate directly to the scenes’ locations. However, Lear’s insanity is not the fault of his location in the world; for the most part, he has

Essay on Blame in Shakespeare's King Lear

580 words - 2 pages King Lear is To Blame   In William Shakespeare's play, "King Lear", the main character, King Lear, claims to be "a man more sinned against than sinning"(3.2.60-61). Though a good king, King Lear's own actions cause his family and kingdom to fall apart. The sins committed against King Lear are a result of his personal faults of rashness, blindness, and foolishness.   King Lear's hot temper and hasty decisions play a

Clear Vision in Shakespeare's King Lear

1839 words - 7 pages and generous. The storm serves as a metaphor to his insanity, as Lear considers issues he had not previously cared about as ruler. Characters including the Fool, Poor Tom, Gloucester, Kent and Cordelia are deeply loyal to the King, content to help him through his mental anguish. This leads to a greater understanding of himself and his surroundings, as he reassesses himself and society through his suffering in madness.   Works Cited and

Similar Essays

Shakespeare's King Lear Goneril And Cordelia In King Lear

952 words - 4 pages The Characters of Goneril and Cordelia in King Lear   Nothing makes a story like a good villain, or in this case, good villainess. They are the people we love to hate and yearn to watch burn. Goneril, of Shakespeare’s King Lear, is no exception. Her evils flamed from the very beginning of the play with her lack of sincerity in professing her love for her father: "Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter; Dearer than

A Charactor Study Of Cordelia From Shakespeare's King Lear

1049 words - 4 pages nature (the love test).Her decency is highlighted in Act IV, Scene VII, when she is at Lear's side and he slowly awakes and thinks of her as an angel. He asks the "angel" for Cordelia to forgive him, but according to Cordelia, there is no need to do so.Her eventual demise (she was hung) is not actually shown on stage - it is merely reported to the King who breaks down and cries. This, despite not being played, shows how much Lear loves his daughter

Transformation Of Lear In Shakespeare's King Lear

1714 words - 7 pages King Lear is a Shakespearian tragedy revolving largely around one central theme, personal transformation. Shakespeare shows in King Lear that the main characters of the play experience a transformative phase, where they are greatly changed through their suffering. Through the course of the play Lear is the most transformed of all the characters. He goes through seven major stages of transformation on his way to becoming an omniscient character

A Monologue By Cordelia Of King Lear

1504 words - 6 pages the deeper meanings behind Lear’s behaviour. In doing this I created a thorough monologue explaining the two possible sides of Lear and how Cordelia could be unsure towards her father’s mental state. From these improvisations I was able to look deeper into the story and create Cordelia’s view, and create empathy to a potential audience. In creating this monologue I wanted the audience listening to her monologue to feel her powerful emotion, the