King LearShakespeare’s King Lear is a tragic play about an English king and his three daughters. It is a tragic play because it takes Lear all his long life and much suffering to realize the true value of the thing that he takes for granted, his youngest daughter Cordelia. The old king, Lear, spoiled by his absolute power and his habit of receiving instant gratification, asks his daughters to verbalize the feelings that each has for her father in exchange for his kingdom. At this point the old king’s downfall and a late life lesson for what years remain in Lear’s life begin.
The first two daughters, Goneril and Regan, put on an unnecessarily hyperbolic display of flattery just as their father requests, but the youngest daughter, Cordelia, plainly acknowledges that she loves her father according to her bond. This plain declaration made by Lear’s favorite daughter infuriates the old King, and, blinded by his rage and old age, Lear disowns Cordelia, revokes her dowry and banishes her. Despite this, the King of France marries Cordelia and makes her queen of France. Not much time transpires before Goneril and Regan throw their own father out into the storm. Lear finds himself without a kingdom, and without family, for he rejects his youngest daughter for telling the truth and shortly after his two eldest daughters, who showered him with flattery when the time was right, reject him.
Alone and powerless, Lear spends the night under a stormy sky and embraces the natural elements that lash out at him. To his surprise and disbelief, Cordelia lands with the French forces in order to restore her father’s name and to redress the wrong that her two sisters have committed against the old Lear who, in the reader’s eyes, exchanges his title of “King” for that of “Fool.”