King Lear Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.
I am made of the self-same metal that my sister,
And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
I find she names my very deed of love;
Only she comes too short, that I profess
Myself an enemy to all other joys
Which the most precious square of sense
And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear Highness' love. (1.1.76-84)
Here, Regan claims Goneril's profession of love for Lear falls "too short." Hmm. We seem to be detecting a pattern here. Both Goneril and Regan seem pretty determined to measure their so-called love for Lear, as if love is something quantifiable. We wonder how Cordelia will respond to all this. Keep reading…
And yet not so, since I am sure my love's
More ponderous than my tongue. (1.1.86-87)
After Goneril and Regan bicker about who loves Lear the "most," Cordelia decides that her "love's more ponderous than [her] tongue." In other words, while Goneril and Regan talk as though their love is something quantifiable, Cordelia determines that her love for Lear cannot be measured with words.
[…] what can you say to draw
A third more opulent than your sisters'? Speak.
Nothing, my lord.
Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again.
Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty
According to my bond, nor more nor less.
How, how, Cordelia! Mend your speech a little,
Lest it may mar your fortunes. (1.1.94-104)
Although Cordelia is clearly Lear's most loving daughter, she refuses to participate in Lear's love test. Instead of professing her love and obedience like her two-faced sisters, Cordelia insists that she "cannot heave [her] heart into [her] mouth." In other words, Cordelia insists that her love for Lear is literally unspeakable. Brain Snack: Shakespeare seems to make a similar point in Sonnet 18, which is all about whether or not the poet can find words to convey how he truly feels about his beloved.