Examine the ways the relationship between King Lear and Cordelia is presented in the play King Lear

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Yurcelah Shah                                                     9PQ3                                                Friday 15th June 2012

Examine the ways the relationship between King Lear and ONE of his daughters is presented in the play ‘King Lear’

 Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear focuses heavily on the relationship between a father and his daughters and shows the effects of favouritism on all their lives. I will be focussing on the presentation of the relationship between King Lear and his youngest, and favourite daughter, Cordelia. King Lear is an elderly man, quick tempered and foolish. Cordelia is a brave yet respectful young lady, expected of a woman in the patriarchal society at the time the play was set.

First impressions have a huge impact on the audience’s views of the character. In the beginning scenes, Lear seems slightly foolish and greedy, because he wants his daughters to express his love for him in the best way possible. Goneril and Regan express their love towards their father. Shakespeare uses a number of techniques to portray their false professions of love, including exaggeration. For example “I love you more than word can wield the matter” (Act 1 Scene 1). This was said, because Goneril assumed and assumed correctly that, that was what Lear wanted to hear. Exaggeration is a key technique in the play, because when in the presence of the King, the courts would have to be respectful, and to avoid being punished, exaggeration would make the King satisfied as he, for sure was the most powerful figure in the country. Shakespeare uses sibilance: “Which the most precious square of sense possesses.”(Act 1 Scene 1). The repetition of the ‘s’ sound is quite a harsh sound, so it creates a harsh atmosphere. It also creates emphasis on the important words. In the play, the first indication of Goneril and Regan’s evil is their insincere professions of love. Because the language that Shakespeare chooses is excessive and over-flattering, an audience recognizes the disingenuousness of the words immediately. On the other hand, the audience recognizes Cordelia as the truthful child, although she appears rebellious. Her words are touching, because she expresses her love to her father simply.

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Shakespeare portrays Cordelia as a sad, strong and very stubborn character. This is evident, when Cordelia professes her love to her father: “I cannot heave my heart into my mouth: I love your majesty according to my bond; no more, no less.” (Act 1 Scene 1). From this point, Cordelia is realising that her father cannot possess all her love. In this conversation, the audience sees Cordelia ‘disregard’ her father, although after numerous chances to restructure her profession, Cordelia determinedly refuses to exaggerate her feelings. She only says she loves her father as a daughter should love her father.  From the ...

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