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Cordelia as a tragic character

William Shakespeare is noted for his distinct characterization. In his tragedy, King Lear, he has portrayed a loveable and touching character- Cordelia. From the beginning to the end of the play, she the victim of fate. Her father's hideous rashness and obstinate attitude bring out his downfall but 'heavenly Cordelia' is also responsible for her tragedy to a considerable extent. Now we will discuss Cordelia's character as a tragic character.

At the beginning of the play, we find that Lear, the King of Britain, has decided to divide his kingdom among his three daughters in accordance with the degree of love which his daughters feel for him. The two of his daughters receive the entire kingdom which is equally divided between them while the youngest daughter Cordelia is totally deprived of her share because she has failed to gratify her father's vanity.

Cordelia is the youngest daughter of King Lear. Lear loves her deeply and dearly. She refuses to flatter him as her sisters have done. Among his three daughters Cordelia is the most beloved to him. She also loves her old father most profoundly and without any alloy. Lear disinherits Cordelia. The Duke of Burgundy and the King of France love Cordelia. But the Duke of Burgundy withdraws to marry her because her father already disinherits her. On the other hand, the King of France is impressed by her honesty and marries her.

Cordelia is also rational, argumentative and she has a very keen and acute sense of the distinction between right and wrong. She is also proud, courageous and has the keen sense of dignity. When the Duke of Burgundy withdraws to marry her without a dowry, she says very calmly to him: "I shall not be his wife." She is selfish and always worries about her father's welfare. She is trustful to her actions and behavior. Actually, at the end of the play, she becomes a tragic character.

If one tries to sum up her character in one word, the word 'restraint' seems more appropriate. This note is evident at the very beginning of the play. Cordelia is tender, affectionate and kind- hearted. These come out most strongly in her dealings with her stricken father, whose restoration she strives hard to accomplish.

To sum up,we can say that Cordelia loves her father very much. but she does not flatter to her father. And this brings her tragedy. Her tragic condition brings our pity and fear. So, she is a tragic character in the play, king Lear.


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