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The Shakespeare Sisterhood: Cordelia

In Cordelia we have an exalted example of pure filial devotion, unalloyed by any less heroic passion -- a character every attribute of which is subordinate to the highest conception of duty. The admiration she commands is entirely independent of the lighter graces, or those pretty tricks of unconscious coquetry which have attained a legitimate position in the "affairs of woman;" she is a silent, shy, undemonstrative girl, quite outshone in her father's court by the "scornful beauty" and the ready tongues of her sisters.

Compared with any less perfect, but not less charming, lady of this sisterhood, Cordelia will appear transcendently superior, by as much as she who follows the dictates of true religious principle must ever take moral precedence of the creature of mere impulses, whether of passion or caprice; but side by side with Goneril and Regan -- those diabolical creations, who are women only physically -- she shines an angel of light.

It is only by careful study of the few master-strokes with which Cordelia is delineated that we can make out a faithful portrait of this matchless daughter; in fact, throughout the moving record of madness and crime, of which she is the heroine, her "heavenly beauty of soul" is felt rather than seen; although she is almost excluded from the action, her purity is ever present to the mind's eye, in dazzling contrast to the outer darkness of her surroundings.

How to cite this article:
Palmer, Henrietta L. The Stratford gallery, or, The Shakespeare sisterhood. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1859. Shakespeare Online. 20 Oct. 2009. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

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Cordelia. From The Stratford Gallery by Henrietta Palmer.