Liquid has the ability to drive individuals to madness on account of the inferred power it gives the owner. In the famous tragedy, King Lear, by William Shakespeare, the control over liquid leads the characters to their own demise. Despite the financial definition of liquid, each character within Shakespeare’s play redefines what they determine as liquid. For some of the characters, liquid can be aligned more closely to the denotation of the meaning, as a form of inheritance or power. For other characters, trust and love are defined as a form of liquid. All the characters in King Lear act on the obtainment of liquid, therefore functioning as the driving force of Shakespeare’s play. This leads to a series of swapping within the play in order to obtain their best potential for liquid. Throughout the play, almost all the characters find themselves a victim of expulsion on account of swapping whether it be of power, roles, or even ideologies. Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear is therefore arguably driven by each character’s various desires for liquidity causing them to freely swap roles on the account of being expelled or wish to expel others.
Driven by his expulsion, Edmund in King Lear is motivated to banish his brother and swap roles in order to obtain his father’s inheritance and power which he defines as liquid. Born as a bastard, Edmund is marked as an illegitimate child by his father Gloucester. The inevitable means of expulsion this places on him strips any ability for him to obtain liquid from his father. Edmund’s older brother, Edgar, thus inheriting all their father has to offer, further expelling Edmund from his family. In this case, the obtainment of liquid also defines each character’s intrinsic value, causing Edmund to come up with a devious plan in response to expulsion. As a result of his expulsion from inheritance and his family, Edmund, therefore, wishes to swap roles with his brother to gain trust (both monetary and relationally) from his father. He claims, “Well then,/ Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land/ Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund/ As to th’ legitimate…Edmund the base/ Shall [top] th’legitimate. I grow, I prosper./ Now, gods stand up for the bastards!” (1.2, 31). As a result of Edmund’s fraudulent behavior and his father’s fear of losing his own liquidity (which is defined by his successor), Gloucester swaps his trust from Edgar to Edmund without hesitation, expelling his firstborn and switching the roles between the two brothers. Edgar, who previously has had everything, is driven to madness by the lack of liquidity which previously offered him intrinsic value. It can be argued that the swapping between Edgar and Edmund’s expulsion on account of liquidity, also has the power to control their emotional response which leads to their demise as Edmund also drives expulsion for other character’s indirectly within the play.
The daughters of King Lear also experience the swapping of roles throughout the play, as they attempt to gain their best potential at obtaining liquid; however, the daughters not only find themselves being expelled from their father, but also from each other. In Act One of King Lear, Cordelia finds herself a victim of exile. This is due to her promise to equally both love her father and her husband, love acting as her definition of liquid. Despite the rationality of her proposal, Goneril and Regan prove themselves more loyal to their father allowing for his dues and respect to be attributed to them, leading Cordelia to expulsion. Although the older sisters can be viewed as acting fraudulently, Lear defines his liquid by trust and loyalty which Cordelia does not prove. After expelling her states, “I loved her most and thought to set my rest/ On her kind nursery…So be my grave my peace, as here I give/ Her father’s heart from her,” (1.1,15) liquid, therefore, driving his actions. Later in the play, Cordelia’s expulsion is swapped with her sisters after they expel Lear and Cordelia proves her loyalty to her father. As a result, the eldest daughters who earnestly expelled Lear, become subject to expulsion from their father. Their own intentions swap as well as they expel each other, in pursuit of Edmund’s love which presents itself as liquid. The two women thus find themselves swapping roles with Cordelia, expelled from everyone including each other. Similarly to Edmund’s love being their form of liquid, King Lear also redefines the term liquid.
King Lear also experiences expulsion which swaps his understanding of liquid assets, defined by both his possessions and daughters’ trust. Due to his position in society, King Lear has control over various different forms of liquid, including servants and property, but the trust he instills in his daughters is also one of his forms of liquidity. This is evident not only with Cordelia but also with Regan and Goneril. When his two eldest daughters deny him his servants from residing with him, they disrespect King Lear’s understanding of trust and strip him of his liquid in various different ways. As a result, King Lear is expelled from his daughters’ homes and he is left with no liquid. While expelled from his home, King Lear comes to an epiphany about the meaning of liquid as he comforts the Fool who is stuck in the storm with him, “Poor Fool and knave, I have one part in my heart/ That’s sorry yet for thee” (3.1, 131). King Lear comes to the discovery that not all men have the same liquid advantages as himself and he finds himself pitying those who have also been expelled. In King Lear’s epiphany and swapping of understanding, the term liquid becomes literal as the rain acts as a symbol of rebirth for King Lear’s new perspective on liquid. It can be argued that the liquid trust of his daughters is, therefore, more important to King Lear than his personal possessions. This is proven when Cordelia returns to her father and proves her trust, causing King Lear to swap the respect he has for his daughters on the account of liquid. After her death, his last moments are spent in despair over the loss of his liquid which is now defined by his love for Cordelia.
The definitions of liquid connote differently than its denotation for each character within Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear. For some liquidity is a form of power and inheritance, but for other character’s liquidity can be defined by trust and love. Liquid within King Lear, therefore, can be defined as anything the characters deem important or have intrinsic value for one’s self. The value placed on liquid, therefore, causes a series of swapping between these liquid assets as well as the characters’ roles, specifically in relation to expulsion. Liquid, therefore, acts as the driving force of plot in King Lear, motivating characters to act out in wish to obtain their best possible advantages; however, it is liquid and the actions that occur as a result that lead the characters to their own demise and expulsion from the real world.