Speak Again!!!

“Nothing will come of nothing, speak again.”

Were the words spoken of King Lear to his youngest daughter, Cordelia in Act 1.

King Lear was right, nothing can come from nothing if you ignore the natural order of divine justice. And Cordelia’s response, “Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth”  demonstrates by the end of the play that her lack of words and her intolerance for the games that her family plays mean “nothing”. Its the actions that one takes that proves the true outcome of real love and loyalty for a child and a parent and a parent to a child.

Lear violates the natural law when he pins his daughters against one another when he tests his daughters love for him. His father-child relationship is destroyed by his lack of parental judgement as his daughters compete for his love and attention. Favoritism that a parent plays among his children is unnatural and I do think Lear, as well as Gloucester, has brought  these horrific circumstances and deaths, at the end, upon themselves. Pinning sister against sister or brother against brother can only have one outcome…revenge! The natural law suggests that a parent should love ALL his or her children equally and unconditionally, if this law is violated there will be heavy consequences at the end as we see happens in King Lear. 

In my first post I had questioned  whether or not Lear transforms himself during the nature of the storm. While I do think he understands the reality of his situation and the betrayal by his daughters, I don’t think he truly transforms until he meets Cordelia again and she forgives him for his own betrayal of his love for her. It is in these sweet and tender moments that we get a glimpse of the unconditional love that they both have for one another. In the end King Lear gets a chance to speak outwardly about his love for his daughter, he gets a chance to “speak again” and realizes how wrong he was for ever doubting Cordelia’s love.

The love of a child for his or her parents or the love of a parent for his or her child should never be questioned or challenged as we see done in King Lear. This unnatural betrayal sets the stage for good verses evil and can only end tragically.


2 thoughts on “Speak Again!!!

  1. patricia

    It is never too late to correct your wrongs!! Unfortunately in this case the story still ends tragically. It takes real courage to admit you may have been wrong and try and repair your behaviors. Luckily for Lear Cordelia is a forgiving soul and accepts her father’s change of heart. Through both of their actions we are able to see the love shine through. This reunion between Lear and Cordelia was pretty predictable as the play unfolded, but Regan and Gonoril fighting to the death over a man, well that was a shocker! In the end King Lear took back over the father role as he cradled Cordelia in his arms weeping for his loss. It was unfortunate that he can only blame himself because his actions led to this moment. Although Lear seemed almost mad at times his character portrays his understanding and insight into Codelia’s death. It was not until this scene that Lear feels the overwhelming weight of his actions.

  2. pamsutherland

    True that the actions of the fathers set the siblings against each other but it’s interesting how each is so very different. The son that was to get nothing had to fight to get something or he never would amount to anything but the “whoreson” (1.1.21) his father saw him as. On the other hand, Lear’s daughters (apart from Cordelia) were given everything and were still not satisfied and saw the need to fight for more.
    I can understand Edmund’s thinking, he was verbally abused for probably his entire life, maybe more than verbally. Gloucester asked for it by treating Edmund so poorly.
    Lear on the other hand should have been alerted to the notion that actions speak louder than words. Cordelia was always the favorite – “he always loved our sister most” (1.1.288-289) – yet he banished her for not giving a great proclamation of her love. Cordelia is the one who is punished yet she remains loyal and honest to her father. Goneril and Regan were awarded 1/2 the kingdom each and were greedy enough to fight for more.
    Two families, two very different instances of favoritism and two very similar endings – death of almost everyone involved.


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