King Lear4





William Shakespeare\'s play King Lear is a play full of deceit, betrayal and meaningless promises. This becomes evident in the first few lines. We first learn of the empty words of Goneril and Regan as well as their hatred for their father, King Lear.
This becomes the center of the play and also leads to the madness that the King suffers from. The first words that Goneril speaks are totally empty and are the complete opposite of what she really feels. She says,
"Sir, I love you more than word can wield the
matter; Dearer than eyesight, space and
liberty"(I.i.60-62)
The reason why there are no words to express her love for her father is that she has no love for him and it does not exist. The same goes for her sister, Regan, who is plotting against her father as well. She says that she feels the same way as her sister and expresses how Goneril has named her very deed of love. Regan adds a little twist to this and professes that she loves Lear more than her sisters and that Goneril\'s affection for her father
"comes too short." (I.i.79)
By uttering these words, Regan shows that her love is even less true than that of her sister\'s. She goes even farther to say:
"...that I profess Myself an enemy to all other
joys Which the most precious square of sense
(possesses), And find I am alone felicitate In
your dear Highness\' love." (I.i.79-83)
This goes to show that she is greedier than her sister and her words are also false. She wants more than her sister and will do anything to attain her goal. Her ambition to get what she wants is evident in the words that she speaks. She claims herself to be
"an enemy to all other joys" (I.i.80)
but she is really the enemy to her father.
The next person King Lear calls to speak is his soft-spoken daughter, Cordelia. Lear does not have much respect for her because she does not flatter him and put him on the pedestal that he feels that he should be put on. This is exactly what his other daughters do and he feels very strongly that Cordelia should do the same. Because of all the flattery that was given him by his other two daughters, he gives them most of his possessions. The first thing that Cordelia says when the King asks her to speak is "nothing." The king is enraged by this remark and says that,
"Nothing will come of nothing. Speak
again."(I.i.98)
When Cordelia speaks again she says that she does love him but according to their bond, no more no less. The king is also angry by this remark and tells her to "mend" her speech a little.
The King really means that he wants to be flattered more and that she is not doing so by saying what she does. In the speech that Cordelia gives beginning on line 105, she says:
" Good my Lord, You have begot me, bred me, loved me. I return those duties back as are right fit: Obey you, love you, and most honor you." (I.i.105-108)
This speech professes that she loves him for all that he has done for her including raising her and the bond that they have to each other. It is the bond that keeps them together.
Throughout the entire play, the bond is the only thing that helps Lear in the end. Cordelia takes him in and does whatever she can to ease his pain. She does not do this out of sympathy but because of the bond that they have as father and daughter. In line 119, Cordelia says,
"So young, my Lord, and true." (I.i.119)
She is saying that the love that she has for the King is true and sincere. She is the only one out of all of her sisters that speaks the truth and shows that she really is sincere. Because of her sincerity and her wish not to flatter him like the rest of his daughters, Lear proceeds to ridicule her and then takes away her dowry.
This is what she meant when she utters the words "nothing." She has nothing to say that will flatter the king