What is a Shakespearean quote having to do with redemption?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare's play King Lear has often been interpreted as dealing with the theme of redemption. In this play, the title character King Lear decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, wanting to save the largest portion of the kingdom for the daughter who loves him the most, which he assumed would be Cordelia. However, when he asks how much each daughter loves him, he is very shocked to hear the two eldest daughters shower him with praises, while Cordelia speaks only the simple truth: She loves him "according to [her] bond; nor more nor less" (I.i.97). However, what Lear doesn't understand is that she's being very honest with him; she's saying she loves him as a daughter should, no more, no less. In contrast, her other sisters are actually lying. Soon, Cordelia is exiled, and the two remaining sisters drive King Lear mad with their cruelty. King Lear becomes in need of redemption due to his sin of misjudging all of his daughters and cruelly treating Cordelia.

Later, in act IV, scene vii, Cordelia prays for her father's redemption by praying that the gods will heal the wounds that have wrongly been inflicted on him due to the cruelty of her sisters:

O you kind gods,
Cure this great breach in his abused nature!
The untuned and jarring senses, O, wind up
Of this child-changing father! (17-20)