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Applying Nietzsche to King Lear

            In Genealogy of Morality, Nietzsche argues that there is a distinction between the morality of the nobles and the slaves who are powerless, low-minded, and common compared to the nobles. Nietzsche states that the noble, powerful, higher-ranking, and high-minded felt and ranked themselves and their doings as good (Nietzsche p.10). This suggests that nobles are cheerful, simple and clean. They don't care about the opinions of other people and believe that everything they do is right and just. In contrast, people with the slave morality are usually powerless and weaker compared to the nobles. The slaves know about being silent, not forgetting, waiting, belittling oneself for the moment, and humbling oneself (Nietzsche p.20), which indicates that they resent and hate the status and power of the nobles. The negative thoughts and resentments become a creative force for revenge. We can also apply these two concepts to King Lear's characters, Lear and Cordelia, who fit noble morality. By contrast, Goneril and Regan fit in the idea of slave morality. .
             Cordelia is one of the few genuinely principled people in King Lear. Compared with her two sisters, she is a saint. Regan and Goneril flatter their father and then throw him out of the house once they have his money. Cordelia on the other hand, refuses to make a big public deal about her love for Lear and easily forgives her father when Lear comes to his senses. Cordelia's honesty and integrity contrast with her sister's selfish insincerity. In the play Cordelia shows the traits of a character with noble morality: "Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave/ My heart into my mouth. I love you majesty/ According to my bond, no more nor less." (King Lear 1.1.91-93). She is unable to heave her heart into her mouth. Even though her two sisters already demonstrate how to win Lear's heart, she didn't go along with it. She insists on her own honesty. "Why have my sisters husbands if they say/ They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,/ That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry/ Half my love with him, half my care and duty.

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