“Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich being poor/Most choice forsaken, and most loved despised!/Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon,/Be it lawful I take up what’s cast away./Gods, Gods! ‘Tis strange that from their cold’st neglect/My love should kindle to inflamed respect.—/Thy dowerless daughter, King, thrown to my change,/Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France./Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy/Can buy this unprized precious maid of me.—/Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind,/Thous losest here, a better where to find.” -France (1.1 250-261)
Cordelia is the very definition of romantic. She’s the one that tries to rebel against her father’s wish because of her virtues. For her, the measure of one’s love is not through words but by actions. Her choice to be honest caused her to be banished and disowned by her own beloved father yet she still kept her ground. The Duke of France is the same way. In this time period, honor often comes hand in hand with land and those who retain more land has the power. Trust is often misplaced because of greed and this is what has become in Lear’s kingdom. The Duke’s decision to take on Cordelia as his wife can create issues within his family. Because Cordelia has been stripped off of the King’s inheritance, Cordelia, to most royalty, has become a non-viable dowry yet the Duke’s desire for something genuine. This reminds me of another one of Shakespeare’s plays, Romeo and Juliet. As the only children of both families, they are destined to be heirs. I guess love does top everything else. Romeo and Juliet, being one of Shakespeare’s most popular and highly adapted plays, is fascinated by many romantic readers because of the belief of “right will always win against wrong”. The romanticized idea of rebellion just adds more intensity to the story because the idea of succeeding from seemingly hopeless situations helps make us think that “everything will be alright in the end”.
Both Cordelia and Kent, the King’s loyal adversaries, were banished by the senile King and as an avid reader of tragedies, the foreshadowing towards the King’s decline is surfaces. From this point in the play, it’s easy to bet that both Goneril and Regan will make sure that the King will be away from his throne and will no longer be a burden while Edmund, the “bastard”, will make sure that Edmund, the rightful heir to the throne, will be out of his way, just like in another one of Shakespeare’s play, Richard III. Edmund is the “bastard”, the unwanted child, the “embarrassment”. Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, is the same way. He’s the ugly, hunchback that no one liked. Even his own mother despises him. Edgar is the rightful heir to the throne and the one that is the “good child” and the King’s favorite. In Richard III, the favorite son is George, the Duke of Gloucester. Both Richard and Edmund scheme to remove their brothers out of their way to take over the throne and both find themselves to be masters of lies and deception.