King Lear

Cordelia's Confidence: The Impact of King Lear's Youngest Daughter's Self-Assurance

In the first scene of the first act of King Lear Cordelia, Lear's youngest daughter, is banished from his sight forever. As per his decree, she does not return to the stage until the end of the drama. Yet Cordelia's actions and attitude reverberate throughout the play, revealing Lear's motivations and conveying Shakespeare's message to the audience. Specifically, her character is used to illustrate the importance of being self-assured. Contrasted with Cordelia's confident perseverance, it becomes clear that Lear's self-doubt is responsible for his inability to rule and his eventual downfall. The actions taken by the king and his daughter clearly show their sharply contrasting levels of confidence. The implications of this divide are manifest in the reactions of other characters and in the unexpected transfer of power from Lear to Cordelia. This emphasis on attitude also speaks to one of the play's larger themes; the ultimate importance of internal motivation and individual action.

King Lear opens with Lear preparing to divide his kingdom among his three daughters. But when Cordelia refuses to indulge her father in his request for a verbal qualification of her love she is banished. The lands and the...

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