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King Lear Loyalty Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.

Quote #4

[…] Edmund the base
Shall top th' legitimate. I grow, I prosper. (1.2.21-22)

Because Edmund feels he's been shafted by society and his father (for being an illegitimate and second-born son), he justifies his disloyalty and scheming against his family. Edmund feels entitled to "grow" and "prosper" at the expense of his father and half-brother. For him, there is no such thing as family loyalty or duty.

Quote #5

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)

Gloucester knows that he will get in trouble for helping Lear. So, why does he do it? Is he being loyal to the king or, is he worried about saving his own hide? (He knows that an army has landed in Dover to aid Lear and thinks the king will be "revenged.")

Quote #6

See 't shalt thou never.—Fellows, hold the chair.—
Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.
He that will think to live till he be old,
Give me some help!
               As Servants hold the chair, Cornwall forces out
                                                  one of Gloucester’s eyes.
                               O cruel! O you gods!
One side will mock another. Th' other too. (3.7.81-86)

Cornwall blinds Gloucester for being a "traitor" (that is, loyal to King Lear). Is Gloucester under any obligation to serve Cornwall?

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