Nothing From the beginning, the theme nothing has been prevalent. “Nothing will come of nothing,” (1. 1. 95) Lear says to his beloved daughter in the first act of the play. The quote sets the story by meaning that Cordelia will not receive anything until she professes her love for her father. As Cordelia is an honest daughter of Lear, lying to her father like her two older sisters have was a challenged.
She truly loves him the most; she cannot bring herself to praise him falsely. Instead, she says “I love your majesty according to my bond, no more nor less” (1. . 97-98). In this short dialogue between Lear and Cordelia, the word ‘nothing’ is said four times. What’s notable is that each time it is said, it implies a different meaning. The purpose of this repetition is to show the audience its importance in the text and to make the ideas and imagery that go along with the word to be clear. By replying ‘nothing’when posed with the question of her love for Lear, Cordelia implies that there is nothing left to say since her sisters have already said all that there is to be said.
Another time ‘nothing’ was a major theme later on in scene four. Lear was enraged by the amount of mistreatment and disrespect that his older daughters give him that he states, “Doth any here know me? This is not Lear. Doth Lear walk thus, speak thus? Where are his eyes? Either his notion weakens, his discernings Are lethargied-Ha! Waking? ‘Tis not so. Who is it that can tell me who I am? ” (1. 4. 222-226) To which the Fool replies, “Lear’s shadow. “(1. 4. 27) This outlines several things, one being that at this point, his older daughters, Goneril and Regan, reduced his status to nothing but a feeble old man by commanding him to remove his loyal knights, kicked him out of their homes, have full control of the kingdom, and lastly, lie to him about the amount of love they have for their dear father. This question asked suggests that Lear doesn’t quite know how to define himself now that he’s lost all the power that comes with active kingship, thus is going through an identity crisis.
Thus leading into the Fool’s answer that Lear is nothing but a shadow. Sight and Blindness In King Lear, there’s a whole lot of talk about literal vision and metaphorical blindness, especially when it comes to fathers “seeing” their children for who they really are. One of the first times this theme comes up is during the beginning of act one when Cordelia honestly tells her father how much she truly loves him and when Kent tries to tell King Lear that Cordelia is the honest and true daughter; Lear commands them to go, “out of his sight” (1. . 168) and banishes them from the kingdom. Lear blinds himself from the true because it is not what he would like to hear. Lear wants to hear flattery, even if it is untrue, which is why it was easy for Lear’s elder daughters to convince their father into believing that they are the loving and worthy daughters. “See better, Lear; and let me still remain the true blank of thine eye” (1. 1. 160-161) Kent states that most, if not all of Lear’s problems origin from his lack of good judgment.
Lear, whose power and authority once made him worthy of following, is no longer in his possession after he divides his kingdom between his two daughters and leaves nothing but a powerless title to himself. Lear’s situation after giving all his power away is so drastically different from before that even those who cannot physically see what is happening can tell that his decision to give away his kingdom was hastily made. Kent hopes that Lear will soon see better and thus, will no longer put him in any danger.
Gloucester is equally “blind” when it comes to telling the difference between his “good” son and his “bad” offspring. Gloucester was blinded by his temporary emotional instabilities, thus failing to make an attempt to closely examine their situation and is easily deceived. “O villain, villain! His very opinion in the letter! Abhorred villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain! Worse than brutish! Go, sirrah, seek him. I’ll apprehend him. Abominable villain! Where is he? (1. 2. 75-78) Gloucester becomes enraged when he reads a letter from Edmund which he claims his brother Edgar wrote.
The letter’s content discusses a supposed plot from Edgar to kill Gloucester in order to inherit his father’s wealth immediately. Gloucester is speaking to his son Edmund who had just given him a letter that he made but says is from Edgar, Gloucester’s other son. Without further investigating the situation, Gloucester immediately believes what Edmund tells him and concludes that Edgar is a “villain”. Gloucester’s failure to seek both sides of this story before placing all his trust into Edmund’s letter demonstrates how Gloucester blinds himself from the truth through ignorance.
Gloucester’s misconception of the truth due to his lack of consideration causes him to misconceive the true nature of both his sons. I The “Natural” and the “Unnatural”. In life, it is natural for children to take care of their parents when they are old and feeble, children were born in wedlock and bastards never inherit, families will love and respects one another unconditionally, and the good to succeed and the bad to fail; however, in King Lear, nothing is really natural anymore.
One of the most obvious examples of the unnatural challenging the natural is in the case of Edmund, in particular, his speech concerning legitimacy. “Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law my services are bound. ” (1. 2. 1-2) Edmund states that being born out of wedlock, he can only do and receive so much. He changes this order to suggest that his own conception represents the power of lust and passion over the conventional marriage and birth of legitimate children. He also states, “Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land.
Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund As to the legitimate. Fine word—”legitimate”! (1. 2. 16-18) Edmund declares his hatred for his title and how he will one day be called legitimate. Within this soliloquy, Edmund also announces how he will destroy his brother and father, which is an unnatural thing to do for a family. He wants recognition more than anything else—perhaps, it is suggested later, because of the familial love that has been denied him—and he sets about getting that recognition by any means necessary.
Another unnatural occurrence is the mistreatment that Goneril and Regan gave their father. They both flatter Lear’s vanity and play upon the familial bond which they share with him, which then caused them to disrespect their father after wanting more power. When Lear notices his mistreatment, he becomes enraged and declares, “If it be you that stir these daughters’ hearts Against their father, fool me not so much To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger, And let not women’s weapons, water-drops, Stain my man’s cheeks! No, you unnatural hags! ” (2. 4. 08-312) Lear delivers these lines after he has been driven to the end of his rope by the cruelties of Goneril and Regan. He articulates how unnatural their acts are towards him. When his daughters ask to take away his knights and attendants, he feels as though his power has been taken away from him. The way Goneril and Regan treated their father drives him mad. Like the end of the soliloquy states, he is unable to bear the realization of his daughters’ terrible betrayal. Despite his attempt to assert his authority, Lear finds himself powerless; all he can do is vent his rage.
Self-knowledge and Appearance This theme relates to the sight and blindness theme because it discusses the need for wisdom to tell the difference of misperceptions and the idea of appearances being deceitful. For instance, in the aspect of Lear’s love game, his two elder daughters lied in order to receive half of the kingdom. Also, Edmund lied to his father to frame his brother and titled him a traitor. Within the play, many deceitful acts have been shown, however, Lear seen to undergo a journey in the aspect of selfknowledge.