Life will always bestow us with choices which we must wisely choose either a moral or immoral response to. Shakespeare exemplifies goodness and wickedness in King Lear. The play presents a powerful manifestation of loyalty, specifically through the characters Kent, Edgar, and Cordelia.
Kent’s unrestricted loyalty to Lear remains stable throughout the play. He recognizes Lear’s tragic flaw and remains faithful, even after being banished. His reliability is further divulged when he attacks Oswald, Goneril’s loyal servant. Kent’s defensive actions result in him being placed in the stocks. This sacrifice adds to his loyal attitude of pursuing the King’s well-being and safety. Oswald is loyal to Goneril, and acts well as a contrasting character to Kent.
They both share the attribute of loyalty; however Oswald’s loyalty is based on immoral decisions, while Kent’s is not. Following Lear’s death, Kent foreshadows that he too will pass on, reuniting himself with Lear. Furthermore, Edgar is betrayed by his evil, manipulative brother, and he is forced to disappear. Edgar’s goodness is displayed when he treats Gluocester with kindness, regardless of his father’s misjudgment.
In addition, Edgar gives his father strength by saving his life making him believe a deity has saved him from jumping off a cliff. This renaissance causes Gluocester to think and act more wisely in future endeavors. Edgar and Kent’s morality and loyalty are not affected by their mistreatment provided by their superiors, which ultimately verifies them as accurate symbols of good.
Cordelia is an exemplar for true virtue in her acts of forgiveness and loyalty towards her father. Lear, distressed by his beloved daughter’s response of “nothing” to his love test, banishes Cordelia and denies her any land and power. Lear turning his back on Cordelia foretells destruction, since she is one of the only people in Lear’s life that is loyal and express’s genuine feelings towards him. Furthermore, she foreshadows her death by returning to the kingdom to the aid of her father. She understands the dangers of returning, but despite these dangers she continues to emanate loyalty.
Shakespeare delivers the existence of suffering through the presence of good and evil. Through Kent, Edgar, and Cordelia, Shakespeare has made it apparent that evil is unavoidable, yet virtue, loyalty, and forgiveness is rooted to everyone. It takes certain individuals to have the courage and power to be able to express these moral characteristics.