How do loyalty and disloyalty affect the fate of the major characters in King Lear?

How do loyalty and disloyalty affect the fate of the major characters in King Lear?

1 Answer

  1. Loyalty and disloyalty are clearly major themes in King Lear, but it leaves some questioning whether loyalty and disloyalty are two sides of the same coin. The strong sense that Lear is a good man, and that Edgar’s actions are motivated solely by greed and desire for power suggests that Lear’s “loyalty” to Edgar should be viewed as different from his “disloyalty” to Gloucester. However, Shakespeare makes it clear that both Gloucester and Lear feel betrayed by Edgar, and that Gloucester’s sense of betrayal is more challenged by his moral sense of duty than Lear’s. Edgar’s primary concern is with personal greed and political power, while Gloucester has a strong sense of duty and responsibility, in which loyalty is inextricably linked. Furthermore, Lear’s relationship with Cordelia is so intertwined with his sense of self-worth that it seems plausible that his “loyalty” to her is a necessary condition for him to be able to survive.

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