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Volume 70, Issue 1, Winter 2018

Matthew M. Davis
Pages 59-78
DOI: 10.5840/renascence20187015

“My Master Calls Me”: Authority and Loyalty in King Lear

This essay looks at how various characters in King Lear view Lear’s authority after he divides the kingdom. The author argues that some characters, including Goneril, Regan, and Oswald, view Lear’s kingly authority as “defeasible” – that is, they believe it is something he can lose or give away. Other characters, particularly Kent, view Lear as a person who has an indefeasible, inalienable authority. The author makes a connection between “indefeasible authority” and the concept of divine right of kings and presents a detailed analysis of Oswald, Kent, and the Fool using these concepts.