Within the novel King Lear by William Shakespeare the theme of loyalty is present though out the entire play. This is shown thoroughly through Kent, with his loyalty towards King Lear. It is also shown by Cordelia with the true love of her father, King Lear. Lastly it is shown through Gloucester with his constant helping of the King. People are loyal to others not asking for any reward in return, but instead they are loyal to them for their own personal happiness. They are often not rewarded for what they have done for these people they are loyal to.
Kent is one of the best examples of loyalty within the play King Lear, this is because of his constant devotion to King Lear. After Kent is banished from the kingdom he then says this to himself of what he is going to do about his banishment. If but as well I other accents borrow That can my speech defuse, my good intent May carry through itself to that full issue For which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent, If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemned, So may it come thy master, whom thou lov’st,
Shall find thee full of labors. (1. 4. 1-8) This means that he is going to change his appearance and return to jis master King Lear and aid him in his soon to come downfall. He is now known as Caius instead of Kent. This shows a great deal of Kent’s character, showing that he is so loyal that even though his master has banished him he plans on returning to King Lear again. Two more quotations needed. Kent is not the only character with in the play that is loyal, but Cordelia is also loyal, this time to her father.
Cordelia is by far the most loyal person within the play, this is because of her determination to help her father after he has everything taken away from him. Cordelia does everything for her father that she can and at the end of the play King Lear recognizes her helping him, but at the start of the play he did not see her true loyalty. We see this when he says that; Let it be so. Thy truth then be thy dower. For by the sacred radiance of the sun, The mysteries of Hecate and the night, By all the operation of the orbs From whom we do exist and cease to be— Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
Propinquity, and property of blood, And as a stranger to my heart and me Hold thee from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian, Or he that makes his generation messes To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom Be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved As thou my sometime daughter. (I. i. 110-122) This is said when he is banishing Cordelia from the kingdom he also says that she has nothing more than herself and even disowned her. We see that Cordelia even though the loyalty she has for her father is the most we see in the play she is punished for her actions.
This shows Lear’s character and how it is at the start of the play. He is egotistic and even though she was his favourite daughter, Cordelia was punished for harming his pride. When Cordelia is explaining why she said that there is nothing she can say about how much she loves King Lear she says that, Good my lord, You have begot me, bred me, loved me. I return those duties back as are right fit: Obey you, love you, and most honor you. Why have my sisters husbands if they say They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed, That lord whose hand must take my plight shall arry Half my love with him, half my care and duty.
Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters, To love my father all. (1. 1. 105-115) This means that there is nothing else she can say that would make the king happy, she believes she does not need to say anything to show her loyalty and love she has for her father. She says that how can she love Lear with all her love when she will get a husband who get at least half her love. This shows Cordelia being loyal to her father by showing that she does not need to give him all her love and affection to be truly loyal to him.
Cordelia nearing the end of the play when she and Lear are captured says that, “We are not the first / Who with best meaning have incurred the worst” (5. 3. 3-4). This means that, those with good intention have not ended in the best situation. This shows how being Loyal to someone is not always rewarding, in this case she is captured by Edmund and later killed. She died because she was loyal; to her father and came and helped him when she could have lived in France in luxury. Gloucester is also very loyal and not loyal within the play towards the King and with other characters.
Within the play Gloucester is shown as a very good person always being loyal to the king, but he is not always loyal to the other characters within the play. A example when Gloucester shows that he is unloyal is when he sends a message throughout the kingdom to look for Edgar without hearing his side of the argument. This is shown when Gloucester says that, “Not in this land shall he remain uncaught; / And found-dispatch” (II. i. 57-58). This is shows that Gloucester was not being loyal to his son Edgar and instead went on the side of his bastard child Edmund without evidence that Edgar did anything.
Gloucester is always loyal to King Lear and risks his own safety for Lear often throughout the play. When he is speaking to Edmund about how he is leaving to tell the king something he says that, Go to; say you nothing. There is division betwixt the dukes, and a worse matter than that. I have received a letter this night; ’tis dangerous to be spoken; I have locked the letter in my closet. These injuries the king now bears will be revenged home; there’s part of a power already footed. We must incline to the king. I will look him, and privily relieve him.
Go you and maintain talk with the Duke, that my charity be not of him perceived. If he ask for me. I am ill, and gone to bed. If I die for it, as no less is threatened me, the king my old master must be relieved. (3. 3. 8-19) When he says this, he expects no reward in return. He helps King Lear because he wants to not because he must. He helps the king even though he knows that if he gets caught it will be considered treason, but accepts the risks and decides to tell King Lear that they are hunting him down and he should take safety at Dover.
Gloucester finally realizes that he has been unloyal to his son Edgar when he is getting punished from Cornwall for the treason he has done. He says that, Regan: Out, treacherous villain! Thou callest on him that hates thee. It was he That made the overture of thy treasons to us, Who is too good to pity thee. Gloucester: O my follies! Then Edgar was abused. Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him! (III. vii. 88-93) This shows that that Gloucester is truly sorry for his unloyalty towards his son.