King Lear by William Shakespeare, is a play about how the bad faith of others leads to tragedy in the end. Two of the main concepts demonstrated within King Lear are liquidity and swapping. Based on the Investopedia definition, liquidity is a concept in which something can be converted or transferred without losing its value. The term swapping describes the act of exchanging one thing for another. Both terms are closely related to expulsion, which is to be denied membership in an organization or to be forced out of one’s home or situation. In King Lear, there is a trend of liquidity and swapping between many characters. It is usually coupled with acts of fraud in an attempt to gain money, status, or love, which ultimately ends in someone’s expulsion.
The play begins with Lear seeking to give up his land and divide it between his daughters. While this exchange has to do with swapping, it also applies to liquidity. He states, “With my two daughters’ dowers digest the third” (Shakespeare 15). King Lear is stating that his two daughters will receive the land and dowry that was originally supposed to go to Cordelia. Both the land and love that belonged to Cordelia were easily transferred to Lear’s other daughters Goneril and Regan; the fluidity of such shows how liquid dowries are, as the value does not change. After not meeting her father’s expectations of love, everything Cordelia had was swapped, and with no land or love left she is expelled from her kingdom and family. As Lear declares, “nothing will come of nothing” (Shakespeare 13). Nothing shall be received without first something being given. When Cordelia does not act as Lear wishes, she loses everything and receives nothing. Her sisters received everything after embellishing their love for Lear. They knew that if they didn’t embellish their words, then they wouldn’t receive the King’s inheritance since Cordelia was his favorite daughter. They had to commit fraud for their own personal gain.
Due to King Lear’s consistent swapping of trust and love between his daughters, he gets himself thrown out of his kingdom and status. After being turned away by Goneril and Regan, Goneril claims, “‘Tis his own blame hath put himself from rest, And he must needs taste his folly” (Shakespeare 119). After swapping his love between the two daughters, Goneril and Regan turn on Lear, casting him out when he comes to them. The liquidity in which Lear placed his love led to his daughters swapping their love for scorn in turn. The daughters’ love for Lear is fluid, just as his love for them was. In each example where liquidity and swapping took place, it eventually led to someone’s expulsion.
This is not the only instance of familial swapping in King Lear. Similarly, between Cordelia and her sisters, the status within the family between Edgar and Edmund gets swapped. Edmund came into the world expelled as he was born from wedlock, while Edgar was the legitimate son. In Edmund’s first soliloquy he declares, “Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land. Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund” (Shakespeare 29). In an attempt to take back a status he was never given, Edmund schemes and commits fraud against his brother to show him in a villainous light to their father. After fooling both his father and Edgar, Edmund gains the inheritance and status he always wanted. Edgar is expelled, leaving all the trust and love from their father transferred to Edmund. Once again, we see how love and inheritance are liquid – easily transferable with no value change. In the end, we see that no matter someone’s status, expulsion can happen to anyone.
While analyzing King Lear, we managed to make text-to-world connections to real-life examples in another film. In King Lear, many definitions overlap each other and have significant meanings. Different definitions have different meanings depending on the context. Even if a book is from a different time, we can still find importance and relevance in its stories and the messages it teaches today. It was interesting to note how we see the same concepts illustrated in King Lear, a fictional work, can also be played out in real life as in the film, The Old Man and the Storm. An example of liquidity seen in The Old Man and the Storm is when the government tried to steal the residents’ property after the hurricane destroyed their homes and physically expelled them from their neighborhoods. We also found it interesting to see how Shakespeare could have many connections to financial topics, and it made us wonder if other texts that do not directly discuss these topics can connect to them.