What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent. (I.i.)
Cordelia cannot decide how to respond to Lear’s demand that she declare her love for him. In this aside, she makes it clear that she does love Lear. Cordelia just doesn’t know how to express her love. One of King Lear’s central themes is the difficulty of truly expressing feelings in language.
I love your majesty
According to my bond, no more nor less. (I.i.)
This line is how Cordelia eventually responds to Lear’s demand that his daughters tell him how much they love him. King Lear explores the “bonds” that keep society together: the bonds of family love and the bonds between rulers and their subjects. Cordelia’s use of the word “bond” instead of “bonds” is significant because she is both Lear’s daughter and his subject. Lear’s daughters struggle to keep the two relationships separate.
O dear father,
It is thy business that I go about. IV.iv
When Cordelia reappears after her banishment, she is at the head of an invading army. Although Lear is the person who banished her, these lines make it clear Cordelia is not returning to England to get revenge on Lear. She still loves her father. These lines also link Cordelia to Christ, because they allude to a Biblical passage: “I must go about my father’s business” (Luke 2:49).