Character Sketch of Cordelia - King Lear- Tragedy by Shakespeare

 Character Sketch of Cordelia (King Lear)

Character Sketch of Cordelia in King Lear: Tragedy by William Shakespeare
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📄Table of Contents :-

📃King Lear's Cordelia (Introduction):-

Cordelia is one of the most famous and outstanding women characters of Shakespeare's tragedies or even of the whole English literary Universe. She is the most prominent character in Shakespeare's tragedy 'King Lear'. Cordelia is King Lear's third daughter, who is the protagonist of the play. She is the embodiment of love, honesty, simplicity, sincerity and devotion.

Character Sketch of Cordelia

Created by William Shakespeare
Character Sketch of Cordelia

Play name King Lear
Father King Lear
Sisters Goneril, Reagan
Spouse King of France

Cordelia's chief characteristics are her honesty, integrity, compassion, kindness and her devotion towards love for truth and her duties. She stands in a complete contrast with her sisters Goneril and Regan, who are dishonest and unloving towards their father. 

Completely opposite of her sisters, who manipulate their father for personal gains, she is a virtuous and perfect daughter.  Even she is banished by her father because she is failed to give him flattering response, but she doesn't regret on her being honest. It is obvious that King Lear had made a grave mistake in his judgement and he quickly learns that. Indeed, it is Cordelia's authentic love that leads her to help King Lear when he is expelled by her sisters.

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William Shakespeare
Shakespeare: The Tempest Summary & Characters

Born (Baptised) 26 April 1564, UK
Died 23 April 1616, UK
Active years c. 1585- 1613
Era Elizabethan, Jacobean
Literary Period Renaissance
Profession Playwright, Poet, actor
Notable works Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Macbeth etc
Genre Renaissance drama
Now, let's attempt to Sketch the whole character of Cordelia. Various characteristics of the character of Cordelia can be discussed under four heads. These are as follows:-
        1)Virtuous and Honest 
        3)Perfect daughter
        4)Obstinate and Stubborn
Let's discuss these characteristics in Cordelia's character in more detail:-

✒️ Character Sketch of Cordelia :-

1) Virtuous and Honest :-

One of the chief characteristics of Cordelia's character is that she is a virtuous daughter. She is very honest and sincere. In this play King Lear decides to retire from the throne. He wants to divide his kingdom among his three daughters. He wants to give each daughter that portion of land according to how much they love him.

          He asks each to express their love towards him. Cordelia's two elder sisters, Goneril and Regan,  give King Lear the flattering responses. Both attempt to outdo each other in their flattery and proclamation of love toward their father. But the truth is that they are unloving to king Lear and are being very dishonest with their father.

 Cordelia on the other hand, refuses to take part in this 'expression of love' test at the first place itself. She says 'nothing' in reply to her father's question. Being really truthful and candid here, she says that she loves her father as much as a daughter should do. She has duty towards her father as much as a child must have towards his/her father.

Already carried away by Goneril and Regan's earlier flattering responses, King Lear flies into rage after Cordelia expresses her love. He disowns her immediately and gives her nothing. Fortunately, Her honesty and integrity lead King of France to marry her even when she got nothing from her father.

British Literature (Click Here 👇)
Shakespeare: The Tempest Summary & Characters.
Charater Sketch of Ariel (The Tempest).
Character Sketch of Caliban (The Tempest).
Shakespeare's Tragedy King Lear: plot & Summary.
Character Sketch of Cordelia (King Lear).
Importance of Sub-plot in King Lear.
links 👉 Important Questions.

2) Embodiment of perfection :-

Cordelia is near to perfection and is too good to be true. She is an ideal character and often seen as a Christlike figure. She is not impulsive and has austere attitude towards sorrow and joy. She doesn't regrets Lear's action of disowning her. She doesn't has any desire for revenge rather she comes in aid of her father and attacks on Britain with French army. She is only there to help and redeem her father to better position.

[Read more:- Summary of King Lear]

3) Perfect daughter :-

Cordelia is perfect daughter. Her love towards her father is real and authentic. Unlike her sisters, she doesn't flatter him for any gains. She tells her father what is true and real. Her description of love between her and her father is right, which King Lear is unable to understand. He is very foolish, blind and unfair here. His error in judging his daughters leads to his downfall. His elder daughters, whom he gave all his land, rendered upon him a very bad treatment and brought him down to the level of beggar. Here Cordelia comes to his aid.  He soon realises his mistake and apologizes for his actions. Subsequently He learns the real bond of a daughter and a father. Cordelia's reappearance in the stage gives the audience a sense of hope for the future of Lear.

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Cordelia loves her father and she knows her duties and responsibilities as a daughter. Even she sacrifices her own life in the course of protecting her father. Their is can't be any debate over whether she is a perfect daughter or not.

4) Obstinate and Stubborn :-

Cordelia is obstinate like her father. She does not express her love openly. And neither she tries to placate her father's anger when he gets enraged by her description of love. She remains attached to her sincere thoughts and displays stoic qualities.

Though, she is obstinate like her father, but her obstinacy and pride is justified. Her love for truth and sense of duty makes her appear in contrast to her father. She is adamant to the right cause.

Thus Cordelia as a character is perfectly constructed by Shakespeare. She clearly stands out among other characters  of this  most famous tragedy of Shakespeare. She is very unusual character in respect to Shakespeare's tragedies. The multidimensional attributes of her character can not be analysed in a single piece of paper.

💡You may also Like :-

  1. Summary of King Lear.
  2. Importance of Sub-plot in King Lear.
  3. Shakespeare's The Tempest.
  4. Character Sketch of Ariel from the tempest.

📍Frequently Asked Questions :-

1) What is Cordelia's role in King Lear?

Answer- Cordelia is a central character of this tragic play apart from king Lear. This all tragedy and downfall of King Lear starts with the refusal of Cordelia to give king Lear a flattering response. And this tragedy even ends with Cordelia dead in the hand of King Lear.

2) Is Cordelia a good character?

Answer- Cordelia definitely is an ideal character. She is the personification of love, truth, honesty and sincerity. She is often identify with virgin marry. It is her love and compassion that leads her to defend her father even when he disowned her.
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3) Who killed Cordelia?

Answer-  Cordelia was killed by an order of Edmund, the illegitimate son of Gloucester. 

4) How was Cordelia killed?

Answer- Cordelia was hanged in the prison after an order from Edmund. However, later he repents on his order.

5) Who wrote King Lear?

Answer- King Lear is a great tragic play written by William Shakespeare. It is Shakespeare's most famous tragedy. Its protagonist is Lear who is the king of England. It is a tragedy because some of the actions of King Lear lead to his downfall and eventually madness.

6) Why is King Lear a tragic hero?

Answer- King Lear is a Tragic hero as he has some tragic flaws such as his shallow understanding of true intentions of the people. His error in judgement of his daughters leads to his downfall. It becomes the cause of his descent into insanity and brings him down to the level of a beggar. That makes him a true tragic hero.

7) Why is Cordelia a tragic hero?

Or Why Cordelia is a Tragic hero?
Answer- A tragic hero in the conventional sense is a character who is born in good fortune but the unfortunate events and some flaws his his character lead to his downfall.

Cordelia is the third daughter of King Lear and was his most lovable daughter. But is honesty to an extent becomes a fault and the cause of a series of unfortunate events which results into her death at the end.

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