Cordelia be regarded as the tragic victim of the play. In the first Act she is the victim of her father’s pride and his desire to be flattered. When asked how much she loves her father she refuses to participate, even though she is the only daughter who really loves her father. As a consequence of her refusal to profess her love in this public way, King Lear banishes her saying “Here I disclaim all my paternal care”. She then becomes the tragic victim in the final act when she is murdered and carried onto the stage by Lear. This moment is one of the most powerful in all tragedies. Her death seems to be almost too much after all the terrible events that we have witnessed. It seems even worse in that Edmunds has realised his faults and has tried to stop it but his decision comes too late. The death of an innocent character is regarded by some as too excessive. While many find this death tragic some critics have suggested it is Cordelia’s failure to participate in her father’s game that caused the spiral of events. She states, “I love your Majesty/ According to my bond; no more nor less.” She loves her father and yet fails to see that her father needs her to state this in this public way. Her stubbornness means that her father has no choice as he has made such a public display of the confessions of love. Despite this an audience does sympathise with Cordelia. When she meets her father again she shows great care for him, refusing his apology with “No cause, no cause,”
Cordelia appears as a Christ like figure. This is evident in her kindness, her forgiveness and her innocence. While we may question her refusal to state her love for her father it is clear that she is highly principled. Once she is reunited with her father she holds no contempt for Lear but instead takes great care for him, refusing any form of apology, despite the fact that he had disowned her, meaning her only choice was to marry France. At the end of the play, like Christ, her is put to death. She is completely innocent but dies because of the behaviour of others. At this point to we’d like interrupt and bring you some scholarly interpretations. A big one among them is the Christian interpretation of Cordelia’s character—Cordelia does seem to demonstrate Christian virtues of mercy, charity, and honesty.
Cordelia is a warrior and some performances have enforced this idea by dressing her in a military costume. Once Cordelia has been rejected by her father she raises an army to fight her sisters and win back her father’s land.We see her order soldiers to search for her father and then her success in this as she meets with him in Act IV.
Cordelia’s decision to respond with “Nothing” when asked by Lear to express her love for him demonstrates how principled she is. We see in her asides how difficult this decision is and thus we are better able to understand her choice. She considers “I am sure, my love’s/ More richer than my tongue.” Cordelia has witnessed the gushing words of her sister and knows the competition. She also hears her father’s attempts to persuade her in to confession “How, how, Cordelia! mend your speech a little”. However, despite all of this, she does not change her mind and refuses to “heave my heart into my mouth”. While some may see this as stubbornness, Cordelia believes that to participate in such a game would be wrong. She suffers greatly for her choice but she accepts her fate and instead moves onto thinking of ways to return to England to support her father.
- Why can Cordelia be viewed as a tragic victim?
- Your answer should include: Death / Banishment / Purity