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What does King Lear's speech to Cordelia in the final act mean?more less need feedback...

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mja13 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 15, 2010 at 12:10 AM via web

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What does King Lear's speech to Cordelia in the final act mean?

more less need feedback on this one, does love mean life or death in this passage? Would this be fatherly love or Lear's determination to take Cordelia out of life along with himself?  does his speech show true fatherly love for Cordelia or selfish old lear not caring about how she really feels? Help writing a thesis with this information would also be helpful and greatly appreciated!

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted January 15, 2010 at 12:55 AM (Answer #1)

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Lear's final speech to Cordelia envisions a fantasy life where he and Cordelia would be together, all would be joyful, Cordelia would forgive him, and they would "laugh at gilded butterflies" from on high, as "God's spies." Even if he could take her out of life along with himself, it is because of love. But his love comes too late. Note his absolute despair at the end, when he realizes she is dead (even though he believes he sees her breathe right before dying himself). This play is very depressing and seemingly offers no hope of justice ever being served in this world - as Cordelia says: "We are not the first, Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst." I don't believe that Lear is acting selfishly at the end. The true tragedy of the play is that by the time he realizes Cordelia really was the daughter that loved him best, it is too late for him and for her.

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