King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

Five Key Questions

1) Why does Lear banish Cordelia?

Lear cannot distinguish between the false affection people show him because he’s powerful and the real affection Cordelia feels because she’s his daughter. Lear wants his daughters to publicly declare their love for him, and in exchange, he intends to give each daughter a share of his kingdom. He believes Cordelia loves him most, so he sets aside the largest third of his kingdom for her. However, the event does not go the way Lear planned. Cordelia does not make flattering speeches. Lear wants Cordelia to talk to him in the flattering way everyone else does, and when she refuses, he is angry. The extremity of his anger seems to surprise everyone, and his rage may be a sign that Lear is becoming senile or losing his mind.