Where is the love?

This is my first time reading Shakespeare’s, King Lear and I can’t help but feel like there is just no loyalty whatsoever. On top of that, it seems like everyone just jumps the gun and does not really think things through first.

We can see this take place several times throughout the play. For starters, Cordelia’s response to loving her father was not taken by the king the right way. He mistakes her lack of speech on her love of him to heart. In actuality it was her lack of public devotion to her father that should have shown him that she truly loved him because she was not willing to put on a show and play into the game like her sisters Goneril and Regan did. I think that this also shows the immature quality in the king, he wants to be admired and loved even if it is not meaningful. It is basically the best proclamation of love that will determine which daughter will gain power. Is it better to be loved for the wrong reason? Instead of just loving his daughters equally and not wanting to be fawned over, King Lear takes her remark the wrong way and banishes her from the kingdom. When in all actuality we later see that it is Cordelia that is the one who truly cares the most about her father.

When Gloucester is told by Edmund that Edgar has been planning to kill him we see that Gloucester does not have much faith in Edgar nor gives it much thought that it could possibly be a false accusation. Again, we see a character jumping the gun and having no loyalty or faith in their child. This play feeds off of impulse. Just like with King Lear and his daughter Cordelia, it is Edgar that comes to aid his father when push comes to shove. Edgar comforts his father after his eyes have been gauged out (another act of impulse) and wants to commit suicide by jumping off the cliff. Edgar could have gotten rid of his father and the manhunt that is out for him at the time but it is his genuine love for his father that has him stay and ultimately fight for him in battle. Just like Cordelia who stands by King Lear’s side even though he banished her. It is genuine love from both Edgar and Cordelia that show that love can allow people to forgive the foolish impulses of others.

Spoiler alert: At the end of the play we see this betrayal rear its ugly head again. With both sisters head over heels for Edmund they are willing to go against each other to get what they want. Goneril betrays her husband, Albany and ultimately betrays her sister by poisoning her to get what she wants; Edmund.


3 thoughts on “Where is the love?

  1. alexatirapelli

    You make some excellent points here. No loyalty! It makes me wonder if this is a comment on the way Shakespeare himself viewed the world around him (as far as those in power and their effectiveness). You are so right in saying that the King demonstrates immaturity in denying his daughter. I wrote my blog post on this last week; I wrote about how he mistook her speechlessness for something nefarious. I definitely see this mirrored in the altercation between Gloucester and Edmund. It is crazy that even blood cannot bond these characters; they are so quick to assume, and you know what they say about assuming…

  2. lauriegrl14

    This is my first time reading King Lear too. Your right Amanda, I think everyone “jumps the gun” or acts out of emotional impulse before considering the harsh consequences that soon follow. I was very surprised when the king banished his daughter from his kingdom but even more surprised that Gloucester took Edmund’s words of accusations against Edgar without confronting Edgar further. Well Edgar and Cordelia certainly show their love for their fathers but where is a fathers love for his children? I thought a parents love is unconditional!

  3. Michelle D.

    These are excellent points raised. The accuracy of the immaturity and lack of loyalty is great because what kind of a father, especially one dividing his property and kingship, can expect to have such a good future with his division of daughters being so cruel and apparent. If he had kept himself open to what his daughters were saying and let his ego be more of the modest kind, his elder years would have been kinder to him. But to demand such proclamations of love from his children is anything but sensitive or thought through. What kind of person demands such a thing? One of Shakespeare’s pitiless victims. He casted himself into the chaos he later finds himself in and he can’t take the responsibility for it. Parents are supposed to teach their children to learn from their mistakes, but it doesn’t look like this dad got that memo.


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