As much as I want to take this play seriously, I find myself laughing at King Lear a lot. He is such a drama queen. From the second the play opens he demands that his daughter profess their love for him, and if their answers are not satisfactory then they don’t receive any land and for Cordelia this means banishment.
“Tell me, my daughters-
Since now we will divest us, both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state-
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?” 1.1.46
He demand attention from his daughters as well as their husbands. He could heave easily given the land equally split between the three, yet he chose to make them choose. When I first read this line I immediately thought all three daughters would throw themselves at Lear’s feet his proclaiming their love for him. I was certainly shocked by Cordelia’s response. “Nothing, my lord.” 1.1.86 She explains that she loves him as much as a daughter should love a father, nothing more, nothing less. While this seems like a perfectly sound explanation, it is certainly not what the king was looking for, so he banishes her. from what I gather this is supposed to make Goneril and Regan seem greedy or less deserving, while Cordelia is seen as the honest daughter who always tells the truth no matter the repercussions. Then the king goes on to banish Kent who is only sticking up for Cordelia and, I guess you would call it bravery.
The king spends the rest of the act, seeming very lazy to me. He is demanding and rude to everyone including his daughters, yet enjoys the company of his Fool, who is outrageous and rude too. He is easily offended and takes everything way out of context. When Goneril tries to tell Lear that his men are acting up in her own house, he takes her as saying that she doesn’t love him and her literally flips out and storms off, he even leaves an awful curse on her hoping she can never conceive and if she does that the baby basically turn out to be a monster.
“I’ll tell thee. Life and Death! I am ashamed
That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus;
That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee!
The untented woundings, of a father curse
Pierce every sense about thee! Old fond eyes,
Beweep this cause again, I’ll pluck ye out,
And cast you, with the water that you lose,
To temper clay.” 1.4.273
I guess really what I am getting at is that Lear is a very unstable character who is demanding and an attention seeker, and will definitely be very interesting follow throughout the play. Who will be banished next?