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.
Sir, I am made
Of the self-same metal that my sister is,
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 possesses;
And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear highness' love. (1.1.1)
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. (1.1.2)
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. (1.1.4)
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.