King Lear

Injustice in King Lear

"Cordelia is about as far from being a Cinderella figure as it is possible to imagine. She is one tough, ruthless cookie, and utterly her father's daughter." Explore and discuss.

Cordelia differs from the traditional 'Cinderella figure' primarily because she does not in any way experience a sense of justice. Unlike in the Cinderella folk-tale, where good is rewarded and evil is punished, King Lear is devoid of all notions of 'fairness' at the hands of the pagan gods that many of the characters fatalistically call upon throughout the play. Lack of 'poetic justice' is seen by some as part of the 'definition' of a tragedy; King Lear takes this to the extreme. The end of the play brings with it a sense of absolute futility: Lear dies in a state of bewilderment, wondering what it has all been for, and bemoaning the injustice of life. He says of Cordelia's death, 'Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, / And thou no breath at all?' (V:iii lines 306-7), and dies before he can find an answer. The mental state of despairing confusion in which Lear dies is more tragic than the death itself, because it amplifies the already huge sense of injustice. This is accentuated even...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 934 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7507 literature essays, 2119 sample college application essays, 310 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in