Let it be so. Thy truth, then, be thy dower,
For by the sacred radiance of the sun,
The mysteries of Hecate and the night,
By all the operation of the orbs
From whom we do exist, and cease to be,
Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
Propinquity, and property of blood,
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
Or he that makes his generation messes
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
Be as well neighboured, pitied, and relieved
As thou my sometime daughter.
– William Shakespeare
King Lear, Act 1, Scene 1. Lear flies into a rage at Cordelia’s stubborn refusal to flatter him and play ball with his love test charade. Her truth will be her only inheritance, he tells her. He calls on the natural forces of the sun, moon and planets to assist in his disowning of Cordelia. Lear promises to treat her "as a stranger to my heart" (simile). He compares his daughter to a "barbarous Scythian" who eats their own children. When he says "Here I disclaim all my paternal care" the tragedy of the play starts to unfold, as Lear gives up his fatherly care and love for her. The first major betrayal in the play is Lear’s betrayal of his daughter Cordelia. This is a decision which will have far-reaching and serious consequences for Lear. And it is one he will later learn to regret when his two other daughters treat him exactly this way. They treat him with unkindness and show him no compassion, just as he does with Cordelia. It is ironic that the daughter who loves King Lear most and the one who respects him most to tell the truth is the one who is disinherited and banished from her own country. This betrayal and cruel abuse of power turns out to be Lear’s greatest folly. His astounding blindness to the true worth of Cordelia and her sisters is his most unforgiveable case of choosing appearances over reality.