In the lunch room today two of the managers were joking about how they were late getting in their budgets. "The last guy to turn in his budget just gets what's left," I said. "That would be the greatest motivational tool ever."
This brought to mind the opening scenes of King Lear, where Lear says that he will divide up his kingdom among his three daughters, and give the best piece to the one that loves him best.
And here, as I'm sure many of you have noticed, he then starts divvying up his land as each daughter speaks, fundamentally breaking his own game. By the time Cordelia speaks, the most she can hope to get, regardless of what she says, is "whatever's left." Mathematically, the correct way to play the game would be to let them all speak first, and then to decide who won, and divide up the kingdom accordingly.
So, since Lear clearly does not do that, here's my question. Is this just a Shakespearean "mistake" (though perhaps "oversight" might be a better word)? Or, and here's where I think it's more interesting, did Lear already save the best portion for Cordelia, assuming that she would be the one to win his little game?
I like that idea. I like the idea that he knew Regan and Goneril were backstabbing little ingrates, and he gave them a bare minimum portion. He knew Cordelia loved him best, and the whole game was just an opportunity (albeit it a selfish one) to stick it to the annoying two and prove how much he loved his youngest - after she proved that she loves him, of course. If this was his plan, then her unexpected speech about exactly how much she does love him must have been absolutely heartwrenching to him. Which, in turn, caused his temper to go off the charts. And, well, we all know what happens next.
What think you all?