King Lear Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

King Lear book cover
Start Your Free Trial

I want a comment on the following Lear quote: "Old as I am, should I keep silent? Should I forget my duty and hold my tongue in fear when the king yields to flattery?"

Expert Answers info

janeyb eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write400 answers

starTop subject is Literature

This quote relates to the problem of criticising someone (or not complimenting them) when they have power over you (as the King does). How does Cornelia keep quiet on her love for her father, even though she knows she is going to be punished for it, how does the Earl of Kent stick up for Cornelia, knowing he's going to be punished for it. In a way, its even more a criticism of King Lear for he "yields to flattery." From that part of the quote, you can tell that he's an insecure man who needs constant reminders of how great he is. Look at the word "duty" in the quote, it is compelled of those around him to compliment him. He even wants them from his own daughters.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial