Shakespeare’s King Lear dramatizes how reactions to words, the authenticity of civility, and various manifestations of love affect relationships and psychological development.
Words, no matter the motivation behind them, leave a lasting effect on the people who read or hear them. King Lear stresses how words can be used to victimize people behind a veneer of legitimacy. Regan, Goneril, and Edmund in the opening scenes use words as a tool to fulfill their agendas when the three use kind words to disguise their objectives. In Act I, Scene I, the sisters give Lear moving speeches to win over his love, but once he leaves their true personalities start to surface when they do not show Cordelia any sympathy for her banishment (Shakespeare, 24). This instance illustrates that even the most evil people can sound like a good person by choosing the right words in a particular situation. While capable of powerful speaking, “as her subsequent speeches [in the play] demonstrate her ability to communicate eloquently” (Green), Cordelia’s morals prevent her from using words a...
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...es as the only example of a healthy marriage in King Lear with both of them genuinely loving each other and trying to achieve a common goal of freeing England. Cordelia’s husband loves her despite her having been “dowered with [Lear’s] curse and strangered by [Lear’s] oath” (Shakespeare, 18), opposing Lear’s belief that his love gives Cordelia her worth. Unlike her sisters, Cordelia takes care of Lear after he disowns her because she has no ulterior motive, just normal devotion to her father. The French invasion of England Cordelia instigates comes from her wanting to heal “those violent harms that [her] two sisters…made” (Shakespeare, 260), which shows that she cares for her country but does not care about power. The death of Cordelia shows that those who love unconditionally and only do good things can still be a victim of others’ combative attempts at power.
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