Lear's youngest daughter, whom he disowns when she refuses to flatter him, as her sisters do, during the ceremony in which he hands over power. Cordelia remains loyal to Lear despite his unjust harshness to her at the beginning of the play and even seems prepared to forgive her treacherous sisters at the end. Other characters who do not betray Lear—particularly Kent—admire Cordelia for her virtue and mildness.
Cordelia Quotes in King Lear
The King Lear quotes below are all either spoken by Cordelia or refer to Cordelia. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of King Lear published in 2004.
Act 1, scene 1
"I want that glib and oily art To speak and purpose not."
The timeline below shows where the character Cordelia appears in King Lear. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
Lear enters with Albany, Cornwall, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, and their attendants. Having sent Gloucester to fetch Cordelia's suitors, the lords of France and...
Act 1, scene 2
...observed disorder in the skies that predicts all the chaos that has happened with Lear, Cordelia, Kent, and now him: "these late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good...
Act 1, scene 4
...Lear sends the Knight to fetch his Fool. Both Knight and Lear observe that since Cordelia's departure for France the Fool has been melancholy and sad. Oswald enters again. Lear summons...
Act 2, scene 2
...on stage, Kent takes out a letter, which, he explains to the audience, is from Cordelia. "Nothing almost sees miracles but misery" (180-1). The letter says that Cordelia has been informed...
Act 3, scene 1
...real identity, he gives the Gentleman his purse, containing a ring, which he should show Cordelia who will be at Dover. Kent says she will recognize it.
Act 4, scene 3
In the French war camp, Kent asks a Gentleman about Cordelia's reaction to the letter that he sent in 3.1. The Gentleman reports that she was...
Act 4, scene 4
Cordelia, attended by the Gentleman from 4.3 and a Doctor sends out a search party of...
Act 4, scene 6
...and calls out to him, asking to kiss the king's hand. Lear, however, continues raving. Cordelia's gentleman and a group of attendants enter. Spotting Lear, they entreat him to come to...
Act 4, scene 7
Back in the French camp, Cordelia thanks Kent for all the service that he has shown her father and asks him...
Act 5, scene 1
...further reveals that, if the British are victorious, although Albany wishes to spare Lear and Cordelia, he never will.
Act 5, scene 2
...Edgar appears onstage again. He reports that the French forces have lost and Lear and Cordelia have been taken prisoner. Gloucester says that he would like to die and rot on...
Act 5, scene 3
Edmund orders that the captured Lear and Cordelia be taken away to prison. Cordelia, speaking with Lear, wonders if they should ask to...