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William Shakespeare’s King Lear. Historical Context & Background. Sources of King Lear :. 1605 – the true chronicle history of King Leir and his three daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella (author unknown) Cordella does not die No Gloucester story No storm No insanity No fool.

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William Shakespeare’s King Lear

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William shakespeare s king lear

William Shakespeare’s King Lear

Historical Context & Background

Mr. Mehrotra

ENG 4U0


Sources of king lear

Sources of King Lear:

  • 1605 – the true chronicle history of King Leir and his three daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella (author unknown)

    • Cordella does not die

    • No Gloucester story

    • No storm

    • No insanity

    • No fool

Mr. Mehrotra

ENG 4U0


1577 holinshed s chronicles

1577 – Holinshed’s “Chronicles”:

  • Lear, upset by Cordeilla, marries the two older daughters to Cornwall & Albania

  • The kingdom is promised to the sons-in-law on Lear’s death

  • The two rebel against Lear

  • Lear is saved by a third son-in-law, Aganippus, Cordeilla’s husband and one of the twelve kings of Gallia

  • Cordeilla becomes Queen when Lear dies

  • Five years later, a nephew revolts and imprisons her

  • In prison, Cordeialla commits suicide

Mr. Mehrotra

ENG 4U0


1599 a mirror for magistrates collection of works by various authors

1599 – A Mirror for Magistrates (collection of works by various authors)

  • One story by John Higgins dealt with Lear

  • Cordell is the narrator of the story

  • Gonorell reduces her father’s guards

  • Her husband is Albany

Mr. Mehrotra

ENG 4U0


1590 the faerie queene edmund spenser

1590 – The Faerie Queene (Edmund Spenser)

  • A work of poetry in two volumes

  • Contains some stanzas on the Lear theme

  • The name “Cordelia” appears for the first time

  • Cordelia dies by hanging

  • It is considered an act of suicide

Mr. Mehrotra

ENG 4U0


Shakespeare s lear

Shakespeare’s Lear:

  • 1607 – first performance

  • 1608 – first printing

  • The story of King Lear was a popular old folktale by this time, but the painful ending is Shakespeare’s own invention.

Mr. Mehrotra

ENG 4U0


Shakespeare s lear1

Shakespeare’s Lear:

  • The themes in the play examine some of the fundamental problems in life:

    • Whether there are gods and whether or not they care for humans

    • The problem of evil co-existing with goodness

    • The question of Fate

    • The problems of parents and children and the exchange of power from one generation to another

    • The question of suffering – why must humans endure such agony (allusions to the Book of Job – The Old Testament)

    • The question “what is a human”

Mr. Mehrotra

ENG 4U0


Shakespeare s lear2

Shakespeare’s Lear:

  • Characterization in King Lear is crucial because it delineates themes

  • Comparison is a good method of understanding character.

  • You should examine:

    • King Lear & Gloucester

    • Regan-Goneril & Cordelia

    • Edgar & Edmund

Mr. Mehrotra

ENG 4U0


Shakespeare s lear3

Shakespeare’s Lear:

  • Imagery in this play is very important:

    • Animal

    • Clothing

    • Blindness/Seeing

    • Sexual Lust

    • Sickness

    • Nature

Mr. Mehrotra

ENG 4U0


The structure of king lear

The Structure of King Lear

Mr. Mehrotra

ENG 4U0


Structure

Structure:

  • The structure of King Lear is slightly different from most of Shakespeare’s tragedies

  • For the most part, in plays like Hamlet & Macbeth, the climax (reversal of fortune for the protagonist) occurs in the third act

  • For Lear, his fortunes reverse, then go forward, only to reverse again

Mr. Mehrotra

ENG 4U0


William shakespeare s king lear

Stripping of Lear

Blind pride & vanity

Lear’s agony

Reclothing of Lear

Opening of Lear’s eyes

Mr. Mehrotra

ENG 4U0


Structure1

Structure:

  • The play is also different in the sense that the secondary plot is fully developed

  • We are exposed to a secondary plot with Fortinbras in Hamlet, but we are not given the same amount of detail as given with Gloucester

Mr. Mehrotra

ENG 4U0


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