King Lear Loyalty Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.
[…] Edmund the base
Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper (1.2.1)
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.
Go to; say you nothing. There's a 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 seek 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.
Though I die for it, as no less is threatened me,
the king my old master must be relieved. (3.3.2)
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.")
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! O cruel! O you gods!
One side will mock another; the other too. (3.7.12)
Cornwall blinds Gloucester for being a "traitor" (that is, loyal to King Lear). Is Gloucester under any obligation to serve Cornwall?