This great work is immense so I will just mention two themes that had an impact on me. This play shows both the self-destruction that unrestrained greed can lead to and also how someone who loves his or her sons or daughters can easily be exploited by them. In addition, this play made me think about the relationship I have with my parents. This play describes how unchecked human desires for prestige and land lead to a life full of suspicion and unhappiness. Goneril and Regan, immediately after acquiring their father's kingdom, begin to treat him with less and less respect because he isn't rich anymore. For instance, neither sister allows King Lear to stay in the castles of their respective husbands to provide him with shelter from a violent storm. In another example, both Goneril and Regan have the Earl of Kent, a high ranking dignitary who is openly a loyal supporter of King Lear, put out in the stocks without King Lear's permission. Again, this is symbolically an act of disrespect against Lear. But, this unrestrained and unprincipled selfish attitude catches up with the two sisters, Goneril and Regan. They eventually turn against each other when they both compete for the handsome Edmund. Maybe what Shakespeare is saying here is that if one seeks happiness through material wealth or status, then that individual is doomed to always feel jealous of others who are more wealthy or who have more prestige in some way. Another theme I found in this play relates to how a loving parent can easily let him or herself be manipulated by his or her own children. In the beginning of the play, King Lear was basically controlled by his two daughters, Goneril and Regan. King Lear strikes me as a capricious person because he makes important decisions based on a whim. For example, Goneril and Regan, knowing that King Lear both loves them and that he is impetuous, give him what he wants -- approval and attention. By contrast, King Lear becomes exasperated with Cordelia when she refuses to feed his ego with flattery. King Lear, in a subsequent fit of rage, decides to bequeath his entire kingdom to Goneril, Regan and their respective husbands with nothing remaining for Cordelia. Perhaps what the author is trying to get across is that if we are to ever entrust a daughter, son or friend with land or a large sum of money, then what we feel for that person can prevent us from properly evaluating whether that daughter, son or friend is really responsible and loyal. Thirdly, this situation between King Lear and his three daughters made me think about what will happen to the relationship I have with my parents. My mom and dad raised, fed and clothed me. Eventually, however, my parents will become weak, infirm and forgetful of what they say or do. So, will I ditch my parents and leave them to fend for themselves in an elderly home? Or will I remain by their side even if they may no longer be in a position to provide me with money or property? In other w
Shakespeare's finest tragedy
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 19 years ago
King Lear is perhaps Shakespeare's most psychologically dark tragedy, though many may argue for Macbeth. The central theme is that of the family and the emotional and physical exile that can be brought about for simple material gain. The naive and pitiable Lear with his Cinderella-esque children, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia present all that is right and wrong with a father's relationship with his children. From his opening gambit:"What will thoust say to gainA third more opulent than thine sisters?"We see exactly why the terrible tragedy must unfold. The side plot between Edmund and Edgar, the donning of the garb of the madman whilst Lear descends in to madness mirrored by his dying Fool is one of humanity's greatest literary tragedies. Whilst the 'baddies' lose in the end, there is no victory, only self-realisation and, ultimately, death. Lear's supporting cast of characters can only dance to the tune he sets in slow, unalterable motion, and there can be no silver lining at the end. Only a deep and terrible understanding of the destruction of the human psyche.'Lear' drives home the failings of the human soul but ensures that inner understanding and remorse is attainable at a great price. It is Shakespeare's finest tragedy.
Great Format for Reading Shakespeare
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 21 years ago
King Lear is a fantastic book...if you can ever understand it. I tried several times to get a handle on the plot, which is not as easy a task as it sounds. I even tried watching it on PBS, but I only succeeded in catching a few words and an occasional sentence. However, that changed after I purchased this book, which has the original Shakespeare on one page and the same text in modern English on the following page. Half the book is the original text and half is in modern language, with the pages side by side so that you can use the modern language page to understand the Shakespeare text. You can either read the whole book in modern English first to figure out what is going on, or you can just use the modern English part when you need it (which I found was often with the text of King Lear). I find this so much better than a book that just translates an occasional word here and there. Even if you understand the meaning of every word, sometimes it is still hard to understand what Shakespeare meant, but you won't have that problem with this book. Using this book to read King Lear was for me the key to making this wonderful play finally understandable and highly enjoyable.
Nothing will come of nothing
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 21 years ago
"Nothing will come of nothing" the fatal line Lear utters to Cordelia sums up the entire play. The wizened king believes he is urging Cordelia not to refrain from expressing her love for him when in fact he is unwittingly prompting her to use the same insincere flattery as her sisters. When Cordelia refuses to acquiesce to Lear's wishes, he banishes her from the kingdom and divides it among her nefarious sisters Goneril and Reagan. In doing this Lear accepts their empty flattery instead of Cordelia's austere profession of paternal love. Goneril and Reagan quickly betray Lear and then turn against each other. Thus Lear's preference for empty flattery (nothing) destroys his authority and embroils his kingdom in civil strife (generates nothing).This theme runs like a thread through other parts of the play. Gloucester's blindness toward the nature of his sons results in his literal blindness later in the play. Metaphorical blindness generates physical blindness (nothing comes of nothing). Similarly, after Edgar is banished he avoids further harm by shedding his identity and disguising himself as a vagrant. In the new order of things eliminating one's status results in no harm (another version of nothing coming from nothing).The motif of nothing coming from nothing has psychological and political ramifications for the play. From a psychological point of view Lear fails to realize that the type of adulating love he wants from Cordelia no longer exists because Cordelia is no longer a child. Her refusal to flatter Lear is, in a sense, an act of adolescent rebellion. Lear's failure to recognize the fact that Cordelia still loves him but not with the totality of a child proves to be his undoing. From a political point of view the fact that Lear divides his kingdom on the basis of protocol (who is the most flattering) instead of reality (whose words can he really trust) also proves to be his undoing. The fact that Lear sees what he wants to see instead of what he should see is the fulcrum of destruction throughout the play.It is interesting to note that "King Lear" was staged barely one generation after England endured a bitter war of succession (The War of the Roses). The sight of Lear proclaiming his intention to divide his kingdom must have shocked contemporary audiences in the same manner that a play about appeasing fascists might disturb us today.
Shakespeare at his best
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 22 years ago
King Lear was written at Shakespeare's most prolific period, a time in which he rapidly composed Hamlest, Othello, and Macbeth. I believe, without a moments hesitation, that King Lear is his greatest work, and probably the greatest play ever written. The plot moves quickly with excitement and action. The central themes of the play (among which are abandonment, unconditional love, and self-realization) are some of the most serious and important aspects of human nature. The play brings up many important quiestions: Why should we forgive others? Can we ever trust someone? All of these areanswered in this play. I recently saw a professional production of the play, and found myself quickly moving from emotions of fear, to laughing, to wrath, and at the climactic end of the play, breaking down into tears, having been drained by the plays rapid motion and tension. This play will live with me forever.
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