Act four is an emotional rollercoaster, packed with pathos. The Gloucester-Edgar meeting continues to be considerably gut wrenching, especially since Edgar has yet to present his true appearance, which is that of a son. Personally, I found Act 4.7 to be the most emotionally engaging. In this scene we have the reunion between Cordelia, the noble daughter, is reunited with her cursed father, whom does not deserve any forgiveness from her.
To refresh readers’ memories, I will take you back to the beginning of the play, just in case King Lear’s poor actions are forgotten. When King Lear asks for his daughters to dote on him and exceed each other in loving compliments, Cordelia, states in response, “I love your majesty according to my bond; nor more nor less” (1.1.90). Cordelia loves her father like any daughter would; She states, “you have begot me, bred me, loved me,” and those are all qualities of a good dad (1.1.95).
And yet, because of his endless need for adoration, this is not enough for King Lear, and he banishes his youngest daughter, saying:
“By all the operation of the orbs/
From whom we do exist and cease to be
Here I disclaim all my paternal care,/
Propinquity and property of blood” (1.1.111-115)
To many a daughter or son, these harsh words are unforgivable. Like Cordelia, many children would leave and never look back after being abandoned in such an irresponsible manner. And yet, as readers find out in act 4, scene 7, Cordelia has had her men searching frantically for her maddened father. When she does find King Lear, he is mentally ill. Despite everything, Cordelia still loves her father:
“O you kind gods,
Cure this great breach in his abused nature!
The untuned and jarring senses, O, wind up
Of this child-changed father!” (4.7.15-17)
In my opinion, Cordelia has the strongest moral character. From the beginning, Cordelia was apparent of her father’s flaws, and knew King Lear was drunk off the adoration from his two other daughters, who now want to kill him. An honest daughter’s love for her father knows no bounds, and would not take land and power over the genuine affection of a father. For this reason, she is going to great lengths to help him restore his sanity, though she has no legal obligations to do it:
O my dear father! Restoration hang
Thy medicine on my lips; and let this kiss
Repair those violent harms that my two sisters
Have in the reverence made!” (4.7.26-30)
Did Shakespeare shape Cordelia to be a Christ-like figure? Cordelia demonstrates charity by helping her father and a tremendous amount of mercy, especially when she says, “o look upon me sir, and hold your hands in benediction o’er me: No, sir, you must not kneel” (4.7.57-60). For some reason, this reminded me of when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, mainly because they are both acts of humility and grave. King Lear is a tragedy, and unfortunately I expect the most noble character and perfect daughter, Cordelia to fall victim—but, let’s hope no