The Concept Of Nothing In King Lear

In one of William Shakespeare’s famous tragedies, King Lear, the author depicts the story of an aging king’s descent into madness after attempting to divide his kingdom among his three daughters. Two of the daughters, Goneril and Regan, rob him of his power and sanity after giving away his kingdom to them, while the other sister, Cordelia, suffers. Eventually, tragic consequences overtake them all.

The word “nothing” reoccurs constantly throughout the play in the mouths of multiple characters. The author not only develops characters and their relationships through the concept of nothing, but also delivers the perplexing idea that “nothing” is actually a part of everything. Throughout the play, many characters fear the idea of having no power or wealth and must lose everything to truly value what they had. The author introduces “nothing” in the first scene of the play. King Lear and Cordelia use the word “nothing” in very different ways, causing a misunderstanding that initiates conflict and advances the plot. Cordelia tries to say that she cannot put her feelings into words by saying “nothing” in response to his question; however, Lear misunderstands and says, “Nothing will come of nothing”(1,1,92).

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He takes away her dowry, leaving her with nothing. The author uses the fool to present another clever use of “nothing.” Although the fool often speaks for humor, this time he is trying to give serious advice to Lear. The fool says, “then ‘tis like the breath of an unfeed lawyer -you gave me nothing for’t. Can you make no use of nothing, Nuncle” (1,4,131-133)? This is a reference to his earlier “nothing will come from nothing” quote, saying that in giving away his entire kingdom to his daughters, Lear has left himself no means by which to survive and he will never be able to regain the life he was used to. In addition to this, the author also develops the plot between Edgar and Edmund with the use of “nothing.” In the second scene, Gloucester questions Edmund about the content of the letter he is holding. Edmund replies, “Nothing my Lord.”(1,2,34-36). Then Gloucester ironically says, “if it be nothing I shall not need spectacles,” only to find it is quite the opposite of nothing.

What Edmund calls “nothing” is the very thing that causes Edgar to forgo surrender his possessions, sacrifice his identity, and become nothing in order to avoid being captured. Edmund tries everything in his power to become more than nothing, while forcing his brother to become nothing, which certainly drives the plot forward and shows the concept of nothingness in everything. In summary, Shakespeare constantly references the concept of nothing throughout his play in order to develop his characters and their relationships, and to exhibit the recurrence of “nothing” in many different aspects. He showed this nothingness through Cordelia’s resistant response to King Lear, the fool’s stern advice, and the deception between Edmund and Edgar.

Brown V. Board Of Education: A Historical Case That Changed The Course Of History

The Brown v. Board of Education was a historical case that changed the course of history. In the case, Oliver Brown-father of Linda Brown- argued that separate schools were unconstitutional because they violated the 14th amendment. The case took a major turn when it was brought up to the Supreme Court. It started with Linda Brown’s journey to her “all black” school, ruled in the favor of Oliver Brown and other parents, and altered the course of history.

Linda Brown was an African American girl who “could not attend a less-crowded white school a few blocks from her home in Topeka, Kan.” (United States Courts, Brown vs. Board of Education). Instead, Linda had to take a bus all the way across town to attend an “all black” school. The reason as to why Linda couldn’t attend a white school is because back in 1950, laws prohibited black students from attending a white school. This angered Linda’s father, Oliver as well as other parents and therefore they filed a suit against the board of education in the city of Topeka.

The case was brought up to the supreme court in December 1952 and spurred several arguments against the board of education. After several years and hearings, the courts ruled in favor of Brown as they ruled that segregation is unconstitutional. “Though the Court’s ruling applied only to public schools, its declaration that “separate” is “inherently unequal” served as a reminder that not only in schools, but in all aspects of life.” (Khan Academy, Board v. Board of Education.) This lone case changed the lives of many African Americans and in entirety, the world.

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The Brown v. Board case was extremely big that many changes occurred afterwards. “On May 17, 1954, the Court stripped away constitutional sanctions for segregation by race, and made equal opportunity in education the law of the land.” (American History, Separate is not equal). African American education took a turn for the better; more students started earning college degrees. Changed were sweeping across the United States but the African Americans still had many hardships ahead of them.

The Brown v. Board of education case started with Linda Brown’s journey to her “all black” school, ruled in the favor of Oliver Brown and other parents, and altered the course of history. Linda’s father Oliver Brown took the opportunity that Linda’s journey gave him to file a suit against the board of education. Oliver was able to take the case all the way up to the Supreme Court and the judged ruled in his favor. The judges felt that separate but equal violated the 14th amendment. This lone case changed the way African American’s get their education as it took a turn for the better.


  1. “Bill of Rights.” Bill of Rights Institute,
  2. “Brown v. Board of Education Podcast.” United States Courts,
  3. “Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.” Khan Academy, Khan Academy,
  4. Separate Is Not Equal – Brown v. Board of Education,

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