Vol. 39 No. 1 (1991)
Research Article

TWO NOTES ON SHAKESPEARE: The Codification of Cordelia's Name

Published 1991-03-01



Although etymologically Cordelia's name relates to cor de ilia ‘ with, or from, the heart’ and the name in King Lear suggests an anagram of ideal heart, such sentiment is at variance with her failure to communicate with the king and her self-willed behavior. Thus, it may be helpful to see in her name another anagram, cord and a lie, suggesting that her response to Lear, despite her good intentions, is a breaking of her bond to him.


  1. Charney, Maurice, ed. “Bad” Shakespeare: Revaluations of the Shakespeare Canon. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP,1988.
  2. Fleissner, Robert F. “Lear’s Learned Name.” Names 22.4 (1974): 183–84.
  3. Fleissner, Robert F. “The Moor’s Nomenclature.” Notes and Queries 223 (1978): 143.
  4. Fleissner, Robert F. “The ‘Nothing’ Element in King Lear.” Shakespeare Quarterly 13 (1962): 62–71.
  5. Lees, F. N. Letter to the author. 24 September 1975.
  6. Lees, F. N. “Othello’s Name.” Notes and Queries 206 (1961): 139–41.
  7. Levin, Harry. “Shakespeare’s Nomenclature.” Essays on Shakespeare. Ed. Gerald W. Chapman. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1965.59–90.
  8. Ralli, Augustus, ed. A History of Shakespearian Criticism. 2 vols. New York: Humanities P, 1965.
  9. Rossky, William. “Hamlet as Jeremiah.” Hamlet Studies 1.2 (1979): 101–08.
  10. Satin, Joseph. “The Symbolic Role of Cordelia in King Lear” Forum 9 (Fall-Winter 1972): 15–17.
  11. Shawcross, John T. “There’s More to Onomastics than Parole.” Session 152, MLA Convention. Chicago, 28 Dec. 1990.
  12. Tatlock, J. S. P. The Legendary History of Britain. Berkeley: U of Calif or-nia P,1950.
  13. Tayler, Edward. “King Lear and Negation.” English Literary Renaissance 20 (1990): 17–39.
  14. Wilbern, David. “Shakespeare’s Nothing.” Representing Shakespeare: New Psychoanalytic Essays. Ed. Murray M. Schwartz and Coppélia Kahn. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1980. 244–63.
  15. Willson, Robert F. “Tate’s Cordelia: Bonds Broken and Rejoined.” The Upstart Crow 3 (1980): 81–87.