I completely disagree with the statement that honour and loyalty triumph over brutality and viciousness in the play King Lear. While we see glimpses of hope and optimism manifested by loyal and honourable characters such as Cordelia and Edgar, the play is predominately gloomy in its outlook because of the pervasive brutality and viciousness that permeates the play. The intensity of the suffering witnessed in the play is formidable because of its physical, emotional and psychological nature. The visceral and graphic accounts of suffering in the play are such, that it cannot be argued otherwise, that brutality and viciousness surpass any examples of honour and loyalty in the play.
Lear’s aberrant decision to abdicate sets in motion a chain of disastrous events that unleash the forces of evil in the play. When Cordelia, Lear’s loyal and honourable daughter refuses to pander to his narcissistic demand to outdo her sisters in their declarations of love for him, he disowns her: ‘Here I disclaim all my paternal care, propinquity and property of blood’, we become quickly cognisant of the brutality and viciousness that will dominate this play. Lear’s laceration of the familial ties that bind him to his daughter is brutal in its rashness. Cordelia who we are told was Lear’s ‘best object’, is cast off without a moment’s thought because she did not want to be fulsome in her love for him: ‘I love your majesty according to my bond, no more no less’. Lear’s viciousness of character is indicated as Cordelia’s reticence is an affront to his perception of himself.
He roars at all present ‘Come not between the dragon and his wrath’. Cordelia’s refusal to pander to his ego has obviously piqued his pride and he spitefully retaliates by disowning her ‘We have no daughter’. Lear stubbornly refuses to accept Cordelia’s sincerity and devotion: ‘I am sure my love’s more richer than my tongue’. The brutality of Lear’s decision is even more starting as both France and Burgundy reject Cordelia for a wife as she is now penniless. Lear is unperturbed by this reality.
Lear’s laceration of the familial ties that bind him to his daughter is the first example of familial betrayal in this brutal and savage play. Once Goneril and Regan have acquired ascendancy over Lear through their fulsome declarations of love for him, they have no further use for him. Goneril and Regan are Machiavellian opportunists who ruthlessly pursue moral for others. Lear has served his purpose and they are completely indifferent to the natural bonds of family and begin to denigrate and humiliate their father: ‘Pray you father, being weak seem so’ [Regan] Goneril encourages her servants to ‘put on what weary negligence you please’. Their viciousness is compounded as they conspire together to undermine Lear, ultimately reducing him to the status of a beggar.
The brutality and viciousness of Lear’s perfidious daughters is manifested in Goneril’s decision to place Lear’s servant Kent in the stocks. Gloucester warns both of them that this will be perceived as a personal affront to the royal dignity of the king: ‘the king must take it ill that be is so slightly valued in his messenger’.
However, they are completely unmoved by any consideration of their father. They manipulatively work together to debase their father, emasculating him by stripping him of any remaining vestiges of authority and pride. Lear acknowledges that he is ‘ashamed that thou hast power to shake my manhood thus’. Their behaviour is antithetical to the love and devotion that should exist between a father and his daughter. They are completely consumed by their own selfish ambitions and freed for power and are completely devoid of human decency. Regan ruthlessly remarks ‘O sir, to wilful men the injuries that they themselves procure must be their schoolmasters’ as Lear is forced out into the worse storm of living memory.
This inhospitable treatment of Lear defies the natural order. Cordelia struggles to comprehend the brutality and viciousness of her sisters when she learns of Lear’s exile. She is absolutely confounded by the irrationality of such cruelty against their father: ‘Mine enemy’s dog, though he had bit me, should have stood that night by my fire’. Lear’s abasement eventuates in his insanity ‘his wits are gone’. Lear’s suffering is clearly palpable and it is very difficult not to feel sympathetic towards this weak feeble old man, who has been made destitute by his own daughters.
The brutality and viciousness that permeates the play can also be seen in the ferocity of the storm. The sheer brutality of the elements is indicative of the mental bedeirlment of Lear as his ‘towering rages’ consumed him. Such is the effrontery of Goneril and Regan’s behaviour it has completely decimated him.
The chimerical hope offered by the honour and loyalty of Cordelia ultimately does not have the strength to restore Lear’s confidence in humanity and after her death, his will to live completely dissolves.
The physical, psychological and emotional suffering of Lear is mirrored in Edmund’s treatment of his malleable father Gloucester. He to cruelly manipulates his father for his own avaricious schemes. He betrays his father and his noble brother. Edgar with consummate ease, derisorily remarking that his practises ‘ride easy’. He callously steps aside when Gloucester is arrested by Goneril and Regan, his only concern being that of ingratiating himself to Cornwall.
The gouging out of Gloucester’s eyes has to be one of the most horrific visceral portrayals of suffering in theatre. Reagan’s insatiable desire to be cruel and vicious is conveyed in her request that he lose both eyes ‘One eye will mock another, the other too’. Furthermore, this scene reinforces the brutality and viciousness of Regan with regard to her desire to cause Gloucester as much emotional pain and suffering as physically possible by telling him ‘it was he to us, who is too good to pity thee’. She relishes the thought of Gloucester having to smell his way to Dover. The depth of these two sisters’ brutality and viciousness is completely unfathomable in terms of its ferocity and rationale.
While brutality and viciousness dominate the play we are made aware of the honour and loyalty of some of the characters like Kent, Cordelia and Edgar. All of these characters out of their devotion and love for Lear and Gloucester respectively seek to restore them to a state of health and tranquillity. The glimmer of happiness offered by the reconciliation of these characters is swallowed by the sheer brutality and viciousness of Goneril, Regan and Edmund’s evil plans.
In a world governed by self-interest and greed, the honourable and loyal characters Cordelia and Edgar are ensnared. The heart-breaking incomprehensibility of this brutality and viciousness is verbalised in Lear’s poignant cry: ‘Howl, howl, howl, howl! O you are men of stones’. He struggles the reason ‘Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life and thou no breath at all?’ However, we the viewer are fully cognisant of the fact that in a world governed by the Darwinian principle of survival and every man or woman is only out for themselves, honour and loyalty have no place in such a world. The fragile nature of such honour and loyalty is alluded to in the play as both Kent and Edgar are forced to masquerade their true identities, the Fool, and Poor Tom and Cordelia is absent for much of the action. Cordelia’s fervent prayer ‘O my dear father! Restoration, and thy medicine on my lips, and let this kiss repair those violent harms that my two sisters in thy reverence made’ ultimately goes unanswered. Her honour and loyalty to Lear result in her death.
Cordelia, true to her name, true-hearted sacrifices her life as a result of her solicitous devotion to her father. Cordelia, is then to be perceived as a victim of immolation as opposed to a saviour-like figure, falling prey to the forces of evil. Edgar too is not afforded the happiness of reconciliation with his father, as Gloucester dies. In a world that is saturated with such vile cruelty, honour and loyalty are annihilated. The abundance of bestial imagery throughout the play solidifies the fact that Goneril and Regan are completely devoid of humanity: ‘detested kite’, ‘pelican daughters’, ‘sharp-toothed unkindness like a vulture’, ‘tigers’, ‘the gilded serpent’.
Throughout the course of the play both Lear and Gloucester are tragic characters, but Lear develops into the more heroic figure. I agree with this statement. Both Lear and Gloucester begin the play as morally degenerate characters who are ennobled by the intense suffering that they undergo throughout the play. Both characters are manipulated and duped by their offspring and suffer pyrrhically for their gullibility. However, I feel Lear’s moral regeneration is greater and more startling as there is a greater disparity between the former and latter Lear.
Our initial impression of Lear is extremely negative. He comes across as a peremptory bully demanding will. He orchestrates the love test in order to puff up his ego even more ‘Which of you shall we say doth love us most?’. Goneril and Regan perfidiously play along with Lear’s charade proclaiming their fulsome love for their father: ‘I love you more than words can wield the matter’. Lear accepts these declarations acquiescently. However, he is completely affronted by Cordelia’s refusal to go along with this charade. She sincerely tells her father that she ‘love you according to my bond, no more, or less’. Cordelia’s honesty and sincerely is perceived by Lear as an affront to his royal dignity and he impulsively disowns her without a moment’s consideration: ‘Here I disclaim all my paternal care, propinquity and property of love / hold thee from this for ever’. The loyal Kent urges Lear to ‘check this hideous rashness’ but Lear is implacable: ‘I have sworn; I am firm’. Lear pays an inordinately high price for this implacability of character and he rightly becomes as he calls it a man ‘more sinned against than sinning’.
Lear suffers excruciatingly at the hands of his perfidious daughters. Once Lear has divested himself of his power, he is brutally exploited by his Machiavellian opportunistic daughters Goneril and Regan ‘Pray, you let us hit together’. They begin to denigrate their father and emasculate him, ‘Pray you father being weak seem so’. Goneril is determined to humiliate him and strip him of his royal dignity by reducing his retinue of knights. ‘What need one?’ Goneril actively encourages her servants to disrespect Lear ‘Put on what weary negligence you please’. Lear suffers immensely as his sense of self-perception is undermined: ‘I am ashamed that thou hast power to shake manhood’. He is heart-broken by the filial ingratitude of his ‘marble-hearted’ daughters. He tries to reason with his perfidious daughters ‘I gave you all’ and ‘in good time you gave it’ asserts Goneril.
Lear is completely bewildered by the callous treatment he receives at the hands of his daughters: ‘O let me not be mad, not mad sweet heaven’. He is humiliated and affronted by the stocking of his servant Kent by his daughters: ‘They could not do it; they would not do it: tis worse than murder to do upon respect such violent outrage’. Lear struggles immensely to understand the callous treatment of his daughters: ‘O how this mother swells up towards my heart’.
The effect of Goneril and Reagan’s filial ingratitude is so profound on Lear that he looses his sense of his self. His mental state is totally bedevilled by their effrontery. Kent tells us how Lear suffers on the heath: ‘all the power of his wits have given way to his impatience’. However, ironically it is through this suffering that Lear acquires ‘reason in madness’.
It is through suffering that Lear is redeemed as a character. Through his physical suffering Lear experiences moral regeneration. Lear gains self-awareness and acknowledges his vulnerability. ‘Unaccommodated man is no more but a poor, bare, forked animal’. He gains the capacity to empathise with others ‘poor fool and knave, I have one part of my heart that’s sorry yet for thee’. He acquires a keen sense of social justice: ‘O I have ta’en too little care of this’. He sheds his clothes and exposes himself to the elements in an attempt to identify with the most vulnerable in society: ‘Take physic pomp; expose thyself to feel what wretches feel that thou may shake the superflux to them and show the heavens more just’. He acknowledges the corruption and injustice that stems of his reign of negligence: ‘Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold and the strong lance of justice hurtles breaks; arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw doth break it’.
Lear’s heroic status is underscored in his newly acquired humility as he acknowledges his mistreatment of Cordelia: ‘I did her wrong’ and in his sincerity in trying to make amends. ‘If you have poison for me I will drink it.’ He acknowledges his foolishness and pleads with Cordelia to earnestly: ‘Pray, you now, forgive and forget’. Lear grows in humility and wisdom and ennobled by his suffering. He gains self-awareness, perceiving himself to be a ‘foolish, fond old man’. Lear’s anagnorisis underscores his essentially tragic status.
Parallels can be drawn between the characters of Lear and Gloucester. Likewise, Gloucester is duped by his perfidious son Edmund who opportunistically exploits Lear for his own ruthless desires. Gloucester is a naïve character.
Edmund boasts about his ‘credulous father, a brother noble whose nature is so far from doing harm that he suspects none’. He hypocritically speaks of the ‘manifold and strong’ the bond between father and son and yet he exploits his gullible father who was prepared to give Edmund everything: ‘I’ll work the means to make thee capable’. Gloucester is treated with contempt by this son who betrays him to Cornwall and Regan’s forces. Despite the fact that Gloucester, is a gullible ineffectual character labelling Edgar an ‘abhorred villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain! Worse than brutish’ without any solid evidence except for Edmund’s say so is prepared to disown his loyal and noble son. Gloucester pays a pyrrhic price for his naivety and lack of discernment. He is cruelly exploited by Edmund who betrays him to Cornwall as ‘the blind traitor’. Gloucester struggles to comprehend the nature of Edmund’s betrayal and it falls to the sadistic Regan to enlighten him ‘Thou call’st on him that hates thee: it was he who made the overtures of thy treason to us, who is too good to pity thee’.
We pity the intensity of Gloucester’s physical, psychological and emotional suffering as Goneril and Regan derisorily scoff that he should ‘smell his way to Dover’. While out on the heath, exposed to the elements, Gloucester acquires wisdom and insight though not to the same extent as Lear. In a similar fashion to Lear he acquires the capacity to see outside from himself. He acquires a sense of social justice like Lear, saying that ‘distribution should undo excess and each man have enough’.
Like Lear’s bitter commentary on the ‘furred gowns’, Gloucester is cognisant of the corruption that permeates the state: ‘the superfluous and lust-dieted man that will not see because he doth not feel’. His despair is palpable as he looses his faith in the fairness of the Gods: ‘I have heard more since / as to flies to Wanton boys, are we to the gods/ They kill us for their sport’. He also undergoes anagnorisis like Lear: ‘Then Edgar was abused. Kind gods, forgive me that and prosper him’. However, despite the noble Edgar’s best efforts in trying to preserve his father’s life encouraging him: ‘Thy life’s a miracle’, he is unable to restore Gloucester’s spirit. Gloucester is not as keen to make amends with Edgar as Lear is with Cordelia, Gloucester is consumed by guilt and shame and is unable to see past these, preferring to wallow in self-pity and regret.
Quotes from King Lear
(Depicting Lear’s predacious daughters)
“Which of you shall we say doth love us most?”
(Depicting Lear’s deleterious narcissism that ineluctably leads to his depredation; the “love test” is an autocratic charade)
“glib and oily art”
(Depicting the oleaginous talk of Goneril and Regan; meretricious declarations of love- specious; they are sycophants)
“I love you more than words can wield the matter”
- (indicative of the fulsome declaration of love made by Goneril; grandiose but spurious declarations of love)
“I am made of that self metal as my sister, and prize me at her worth. In my true heart I find that she names my very deed of love only she comes too short”
– (indicative of the rivalry between Goneril and Regan; they are sycophants; they are only out for themselves; they conform to a Hobbesian view of humanity- humans are completely selfish, brutish and nasty)
“Here I disclaim all my paternal care, propinquity and property of blood/And as a stranger to my heart and me/Hold thee from this for ever.”
- (indicative of the aberrant and heinous lacerations of the familial ties; also indicative of Lear’s licentious nature; he has no regard for the natural bonds that bind a father and his daughter; this is an aberrant/pervasive act)
“Nothing will come of nothing: speak again”
(Delineating Lear as a peremptory bully)
“Better thou, hadst not been born than not to have pleas’d me better”
– (conveying Lear’s gross egocentrism; this is a total negation of his daughter; misogynistic (doesn’t like or respect women); Lear treats his daughter like an object; almost like some kind of concubine)
“more sinned against than sinning.”
(We are made aware of the fact that despite his foibles, Lear is a man who suffers disproportionably; no sense of jus divinium; reflective of the theme of the mystery of iniquity)
“I have sworn; I am firm”
(delineating Lear’s implacable nature; he is resolute- there’s no changing his mind; intractable autocrat)
“Pray you sister, let us hit together”
(Depicting Goneril and Regan’s complicity in the denigration of their father the king)
“Are you our daughter?”
(Depicting Lear’s incredulity in relation to Goneril’s barbaric treatment of him)
“Tis the infirmity of his age; yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself”
(Regan’s denigration of her father; she makes us aware of his hamartia- his rashness)
“The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash”
(Depicting Lear’s hamartia (fatal flaw) - his injudicious nature; Goneril)
“Come not between the dragon and his wrath”
(Depicting Lear’s inflated sense of himself; hyperbolic language)
“I am ashamed that thou hast power to shake my manhood thus”
(Depicting Lear’s recognition that he is culpable for Goneril’s attack on his virility)
“I gave you all”
- (depicting Lear’s vulnerability in face of the heinous treatment he receives at the hands of Goneril)
“And in good time you gave it” (depicting monstrous filial ingratitude)
“O let me not be mad, not mad sweet heaven”
(Depicting Lear as a sympathetic wretch- suffering has an ennobling effect on Lear- leads to moral regeneration)
“They could not do it, would not do it; ‘tis worse than murder to do upon respect such violent outrage”
(Depicting Lear’s incredulity with regards to his daughters subjugation of him)
“O how this mother swells up toward my heart!”
(Depicting Lear engulfed in a paroxysm of rage- volatile, inveterate, peremptory character)
“What need one?”
(Depicting Lear’s denigration)
“Put on what weary negligence you please”
(Depicting Lear’s denigration/belittling)
“Thou shall never have my curse….. thou better know’st the offices of nature, bond of childhood, effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude”
(Depicting Lear’s refusal to believe the Regan could treat her father with the same contempt)
“I write straight to my sister to hold my very course”
(Depicting Goneril’s spiteful incendiary nature)
“I pray you father, being weak, seem so”
(Depicting Lear’s subjugation by his heinous daughters)
“All’s not offence that indiscretion finds and dotage terms so”
(Depicting Lear’s subjugation by his heinous daughter Goneril)
“terrors of the earth”
(Depicting Lear’s pompous talk; Lear is the omphalos of the universe; he is the universe around which everything gyrates)
“O fool, I shall go mad”
(Depicting Lear’s struggle to accept his fate as determined by his own daughters)
“all the power of his wits have given way to his impatience”
(depicting Lear’ indignation in relation to his daughter’s nefarious treatment of him; he is engulfed in a paroxysm of rage/indignation; by Kent)
“reason in madness”
(An oxymoron that contains an ironical truth for Lear; by Edgar)
In this essay I will discuss the character of Cordelia and why I think she plays a central role in the play ‘King Lear’. Many critics tend to view her as an ethereal being, representative of a celestial virtue beyond the scope of this earthly realm. Some describe her as a divinized but tormented heroine, at the mercy of an uncaring and unfeeling male as was the case with Ophelia in ‘Hamlet’ and Desdemona in ‘Othello’. Others see her as an agent of retribution, a redemptress, who helped her afflicted father achieve catharsis before his sad death.
While there is an element of verisimilitude in all these claims, it must be asserted that the presentation of Cordelia is both interesting and polemical to say the least. Unlike the prototypical presentations of muliebrity as in the case of Ophelia and Desdemona, there is nothing weak or insipid about decisive Cordelia.
Cordelia is of paramount importance to the play as her name suggests. The word ‘cor’ comes from the Latin for heart. Indeed, Cordelia is at the heart of this play. In fact if it were not for Cordelia there would be no play.
Cordelia’s apparent defection in Act one Scene one, that is her recalcitrance to emulate the obsequious sycophantry of her sisters towards their narcissistic father sets the dramatic cogs of this play firmly in motion.
In Act one Scene one she stands juxtaposed to the oleaginous Goneril and Regan and their ‘glib and oily art’. Lear’s autocratic charade, i.e. the infamous ‘love test’ throws Cordelia into a moral quandary of no mean proportion. Through her introspection and asides, we are made privy to the scrupulousness of her character.
She is certain that her love for her father is ‘more ponderous’ than her tongue and yet she cannot compete with the fulsome declarations of love made by Goneril and Regan. This points to the moral disparity that exists between the sisters. Cordelia decides to ‘love and be silent’. Yet her obdurate father interprets her reticence as a heinous affront to his royal personage. Cordelia informs him that she loves him ‘according to [her] bond nor more nor less’.
She perspicuously impugns the logic of her sisters’ fulsome declarations by asking ‘Why have my sisters husbands, if they say/They love you all?’ She sincerely declares that when she marries she owes to her husband the following: ‘Half my love with him, half my care and duty’.
This delineates not only the pragmatic aspect to her character but the sincerity and fealty of her nature. There follows a verbal onslaught by Lear in which he histrionically lacerates the familial ties that unite him and his daughter Cordelia.
An imperfection in the character of Cordelia is her stringent adherence to moral rectitude and propriety.
Though admirable for sticking by her beliefs and moral values, it does cost her and maybe the cost is a little exorbitant- since it ultimately ends in the death of every member of her family. Her jactitation here of her moral integrity might later prove foolish.
‘I am richer,
A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue
That I am glad I have not, though not to have it
Hast lost me in your liking’
She declares her suspicions about the malevolent designs that Goneril and Regan have ‘I know what you are’ and that she ‘would prefer him to a better place’. Base on these two quotations, Cordelia seems to have inherited Lear’s implacability and resoluteness. She will not allow anything to compromise her moral integrity even if could have occluded a greater evil- by pandering to her father’s imperious demands she could have kept in checked the behaviour of Goneril and Regan better. Surely this would be the lesser of two evils so to speak.
The Luciferian vice of hubris could very well be attributed to our quasi-divinized heroine as she acquiescently is prepare to let her father suffer under the malign auspices of her aberrant sisters: ‘Time shall unfold what plighted cunning-hides.’
Anathematised by her father and sisters, Cordelia is taken under the benevolent aegis of her husband- to- be, France who debunks Lear’s love test as an autocratic charade ‘love is not love when it is mingled with regard that stands aloof from th’ entire point’.
France is keen to re-affirm Cordelia’s worth after such a devastating uprooting in the bosom of her father’s affections:
‘Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich
Most choice, forsaken; and most
This almost Franciscan mantra based on love and humility has an economy of expression about it that diametrically opposes the grandiose but fulsome declarations made by Goneril and Regan to their father. One suspects that France will be an uxorious husband but espouses his wife’s views on actions speak louder than words: ‘What I well intend, I’ll do’t before I speak’
We see that her actions do indeed speak louder than words. She states that her husband took pity her because of the tears she shed over her afflicted father and granted her wish to rescue him from his predacious daughters. Her motives are not based on an insincere solicitude in the hope of some materialistic reward but simply on love and the hope of ‘seeking to give losses their remedies’.
The anarchic discord engendered in the play by Lear’s heinous abdication and laceration of familial ties and the ties of friendship allow for this young and inarticulate woman to be exemplified as a paradigmatic figure, a sort of apotheosis of womanhood.
She is not an inert heroine. She is a decisive and pragmatic leader as she avoids her armies’ ensnarement by the British forces at Dover: ‘Tis known before; our preparation stands in expectation of them’. She shows no bitterness towards her father when she is reunited with him. In fact she becomes emblematic of filial docility. She wholeheartedly and unambiguously forgives her father.
This soteriological aspect to Cordelia is an extremely important aspect to her character. In the course of the play she transmutes from Lear’s ‘best object, the argument of [his] praise, the balm of [his] age’, to an anathema and pariah with no dowry, to wife and Queen of France, to saviour to redeems her peevish father.
She has the power to give ‘remedies to their losses’ and her presence is cathartic: ‘Restoration hang thy medicine on thy lips; and let this kiss repair those violent harms that my two sisters have in thy reverence made!’
She is evoked as a God-like figure who brings salvation to her father and forgives him his transgressions. This is an inversion of the parable of the Prodigal son in which the father forgives his profligate and dissolute son. Instead it is Cordelia the daughter who forgives her profligate and dissolute father. She was disgusted by her sister’s treatment of Lear and his banishment from Regan’s castle: Cordelia altruistically declares that:
‘Mine enemy’s dog, though he had bit me, should have stood that night against my fire’
She is further divinised as ‘she shook the holy water from her heavenly eyes’. Cordelia is apotropaic daughter who tries to ward off evil. She is the antithesis to the atavistic evil of Goneril and Regan.
Though the play is set in pagan times it has strong Christian residues. The Manichean struggle between the forces of good and evil are represented in the figures of Cordelia and her sisters Goneril and Regan respectively. A gentleman declares to Lear that Lear has ‘one daughter/Who redeems nature from the general curse/Which the twain have brought her to’. This is redolent of Post-Lapsarian story in which Adam and Eve blemished humanity with the taint of original sin and it is only the immolated Christ who can redeem mankind with his body and blood. Cordelia ultimately becomes the immolated Christ-like figure as her death serves to accentuate the pyrrhic suffering of Lear as he pays the price for his follies.
In conclusion to my essay I feel that the character of Cordelia and the function that she plays in ‘King Lear’ to be of rudimentary importance. She acts as a moral barometer against which the moral depravity of other characters conspicuously stands out.
She is an interesting character because even though she comes across as a quasi-divinised heroine, she does have an Achilles heel, her obduracy! She simply will not be compromised. The value of her moral integrity is at the essence of her being.
She espouses the mantra of another of illustrious Shakespearian protagonist, Hamlet ‘To thine own self be true.’ She acts as a soteriological figure in that she seeks to bring forgiveness, ‘restoration’ and redemption to others. Finally, her corpse serves to exacerbate Lear’s suffering thereby allowing his final release from his earthly toil and struggle.