Absurdism, Books

On Lear

When we are born we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools”
King Lear

King Lear at the outset of the play is a commanding figure, an imperious monarch. With pomp and circumstance he deploys imperative words to bend the world to his will. But his position of power makes him suspicious of the spontaneity of others’ love. A King can never be sure if professed love at court is deceitful flattery or genuine affection. In the vanity of his dotage, and with a craving for affection, Lear stages an abdication ritual in the opening scenes of the play. He divests himself of his kingdom based on an expression of love by his three daughters. Goneril and Regan, who do not love him, conjure a surfeit of language of love and are unjustly rewarded with land. They have a mouthful of words but nothing to say ‘Sir I love you more than word can wield the matter’. In a bout of hyper linguistic inflation they seek to over articulate that which does not exist. Cordelia, his youngest daughter who genuinely loves him, refuses to play her sycophantic sisters’ game by seeking to verbally outdo them. Invited to be more opulent in her praise than they she replies ‘nothing’. Lear is dismissive ‘Nothing will come of nothing’’ and divests his land in favour of the other two and banishes Cordelia from the kingdom. Continue reading