I am a man more sinned against than sinning.
A Shakespeare Society Production.
The complete play in five acts.
As Lear sinks into rage and madness he is deserted by everyone except his "bitter" Fool, the loyal Kent and the exiled Cordelia. The play descends into a nighmarish theatre of cruelty and absurdity as Lear realises he has "ta'en / Too little care" of the poverty and corruption of his kingdom, and his loyal but foolish friend Gloucester has his eyes gouged out. Metaphors of monstrosity and perversions of nature structure the dramatic action, and the play's ending remains one of the most harrowing in all of Shakespeare. Many see a profound despair and nihilism in King Lear, and would agree with Kent's conclusion that "All's cheerless, dark and deadly". Other writers have identified a radical but pessimistic critique of contemporary conceptions of kingship and absolutist authority, yet it remains a remarkable tragedy of public misjudgement and intensely private grief and anguish. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
King Lear is a play about honoring one's parents, a very relevant lesson for those of us in the modern world. As with many of Shakespeare's other plays, the language may be old but the lessons are still as relevant as ever. Lear, the King of England gives his blessing and lands to two of his daughters based on their outward show of affection for him, while neglecting his third; Cordelia, because she would rather show her love than make an outward display " my love's more richer than my tongue". It turns out that her two daughters deeds are contrary to their words and the rest of the play deals with Lear almost going mad at the ingratitude and lack of respect shown to him by his two daughters.
There is another subplot with the earl of Gloucester being deceived by his illegitimate son into wanting to kill his other son, Edgar. The story unfolds with two of these men, Lear and Gloucester being mistreated by their children who outwardly show love but inwardly have cold and calculating hearts. As with other tragedies, there must be deaths and disappointment, and King Lear is full of them. Unlike Othello however, King Lear does not have a very depressing ending and there is a feeling that everything will be alright, life goes on in other words.
I have tried to outline very briefly what this play is about and hopefully have shown a little of what is inside this very rich play.Read more ›
Most critics agree that Shakespeare's King Lear is great writing; Isaac Asimov said that King Lear was the best thing ever written. I am glad that more than twenty years ago I was required to read it in college. It took time to capture me but I have revisited King Lear several times since. Although written for actors on the stage it is top reading that is well worth working through language difficulties for the value of the emotional experience and intellectual contemplation.
Like "Hamlet", this is a tragedy that still manages to have some very funny lines; as in "Hamlet", this is generally due to characters either pretending to be crazy, or truly being crazy, so it's something of a dark humor, but humorous it still is. Lear's jester has some great lines doing what only a jester could get away with (and what the reader wants to do): telling the King that he's an idiot when he's done something ignorant beyond belief. Edgar, son of Gloucester, banished by his father for supposed treason, plays the part of a mad beggar to save his life, and when Lear, honestly crazy from grief, meets up with him, their conversations rival anything in Hamlet for manic nonsense that still manages to make a certain warped and poigniant sense.
It's a shame that the language has changed so much since Shakespeare's time, so that the masses are unable to enjoy and appreciate his wit; his plays were not written to be enjoyed only by the literati; they were intended to entertain and, yes, enlighten the masses as well as the educated; his plots seem to be right in line with either modern romantic comedies (in his comedies) or modern soap operas (in his tragedies). Modern audiences would love him, if only they could understand him; unfortunately, when one "modernizes" the language in a Shakespearean play, what one is left with is no longer Shakespeare, but simply a modern adaptation. Which, if done well, is not without value, but is still far short of the original.