Cordelia is a character in a Shakespeare play, whose depiction reflects gender roles in that era.
In Shakespeare's King Lear, Cordelia is the youngest daughter of the title character. Her hand had been sought by the King of France and the Duke of Burgundy. Her wedding to the Duke s the occasion of Lear's infamous test of his daughter's love, when Cordelia refuses to out-do her sisters in their proclamations of love and flattery.
Cordelia, rejected by her father and sisters, eventually marries the King of France who sends her with an army to rescue Lear from the clutches of the truly ungrateful sisters. But the sisters capture and hang Cordelia.
Despite her eventual defeat, Cordelia is truly the moral hero of the play, sacrificing all and transcending the traditional female role for the sake of loyalty, love, and truth.
Historical Basis of Cordelia:
Shakespeare borrowed the story of King Lear (Leir) and his daughters, including Cordelia, from several sources. One was Geoffrey Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, written in 1135, and the others probably also derived the story from that account.