Nothing is Something in King Lear Essay

1177 Words 5 Pages
Nothing is Something in King Lear

In The Critical Experience, David Cowles tries to explain the theory of deconstruction to befuddled literature students in a boiled-down version of basic tenets that discuss impossibly cloudy concepts like destabilized centers and traces and referents. Though I try to wrap my brain around these ideas, I inevitably fail to get to the heart of what Cowles means. My own interpretive inadequacy feeds on irony, because deconstruction theory itself warns that we cannot "get" to the transcendental center of meaning. King Lear, in its puzzling glory, is like my reaction to Cowles' attempt to explain deconstructive abstraction. I understand part of the play as the words rail at me from the page as
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In drama, change is the key to plot movement, and in some cases, to character epiphany and resolution. Had Lear retained those ties to the past, nothing in the play-and therefore his world-could have changed. When Cordelia responds to Lear's demand to proclaim the breadth of her love, her less-than-fawning response appears to infuriate Lear. He says, "Nothing will come of nothing," and is warning that she risks banishment and disinheritance. But his chastisement also reflects the importance of change: in leadership of the kingdom, and in Lear himself. Maybe Shakespeare was referring symbolically to Adam when took everything away from Lear: No drastic fall, no possibility of redemption. This is a minor consideration, though, for the play's reductivism is not limited to Lear.

In her response to her father's demand, Cordelia verbally reduces her love to its barest, most noble form. She says, "Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty according to my bond, no more or less" (I.i.100). In contrast to the bile-disguised-as-honey love offered by her sisters, Cordelia's honesty is refreshing. Her love for Lear remains where it should: in her heart and not in her mouth. As punishment, she is stripped of all her ties to the past, freed to marry France and to fight honestly for the kingdom. France finds Cordelia worthy of love without the trappings of dowry. Theirs is the honorable marriage; all the play's

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