Bonnie McGaha

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Hoyt Bower, Joseph Glaser, Nancy Davis


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Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Cordelia knowingly and deliberately wrecks the ceremony which Lear designed for the division of the kingdom and for the betrothal of Cordelia. Cordelia's chief motive in rejecting the share of the kingdom intended for her is her unwillingness to marry Burgundy, who is Lear's choice. Lear's wrath is unleashed, causing his madness, when Cordelia refuses to cooperate in the ceremony. Lear's planned division would have given to Cordelia the largest, richest share of the kingdom. The conversation between Kent and Gloucester in the opening scene along with Lear's first speech makes clear that Goneril and Regan were to have received equal shares and Cordelia the most bountiful. Cordelia lies when she tells Lear that she loves him only according to her bond. She would not cooperate in the ceremony because she could not be false to herself; yet she proves by her actions throughout the remainder pf the play that she loves her father a great deal. The deaths of Lear and Cordelia make possible the uniting of their spirits in a fashion impossible to their physical beings. When Lear says, "Look, her lips" (V,iii,315), he is not seeing the corpse of Cordelia but her spirit welcoming his as he dies.


Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles