Nowhere is this more evident than in his blatant disregard of Cordelia's affection and the subsequent decision to hand over control of his kingdom to his two unworthy daughters, Regan and Goneril. His two wicked daughters who praise and flatter Lear, tripping over themselves to demonstrate with words to convince them of their great love for him as their father, are the same two women who spend the remainder of the play seeking to destroy him. It is Cordelia who attempts to save him and the rest of Britain by bringing in an army to try and save them from the evil represented by her sisters.
King Lear quickly disowned Cordelia, previously his favorite of his three daughters, for not showing him the same flattery and praise that her sisters faked in his presence. He placed her in a terrible position, leaving for France and her wedding without the benefit of a dowry or the blessings of her family. Dependant solely on her virtuous nature, she leaves Britain to be married to the King of France who, unlike her father, treasures that nature above any flattery that she would bestow upon him. He gifts her with an army to return to her father's kingdom in the hopes of saving it from destruction at the hands of her sisters. Cordelia displays an inner strength that is enviable. She faces harsh punishment at the hands of her beloved father for simply refusing to stroke his ego without breaking down. She also sails off to her husband without so much as her father's blessing to encourage the marriage. Cordelia displays a kind of courage not shown in either her father or her siblings. While she could have saved herself the torment that her father put her through by pleasing him with pretty, empty words as her sisters did, the play would have lost much of its tragic element and the catalyst for future events. If Cordelia had sided with her sisters, she would have been given an equal stake in the control of Britain and would have still had to fight the treachery that would have undoubtedly surfaced from her sisters. Though this still would have conceivably opened the door to some of the same events in the play, it would not have been as meaningful or as dramatic as Cordelia coming back on her own, without knowledge of the reception she would receive from her father, to save him and Britain. The truly inspired scene in Act V, where she has reconciled with Lear and is then sacrificed despite her genuine goodness is heartbreaking.
O, you are men of stones:
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so
That heaven's vault should crack.
She's gone forever! (Shakespeare)
That is truly the great tragedy of the play that not only the evil characters perish, but also the good ones. The play could have been written in a different way from the beginning that came to the same ending, with the demise of Lear and Cordelia, but it would not have had the same tragic element if their deaths did not occur just after their reconciliation.
There are several ironic turns in King Lear. The first occurs in Act I, Scene, where Lear refuses Cordelia's love in exchange for the false words uttered by Regan and Goneril. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth (Shakespeare). While he tosses aside the virtuous daughter who has both his and Britain's best interests at heart, he pulls close to him the two daughters who would attempt to destroy him. By