King Lear (Vol. 72)
For further information on the critical and stage history of King Lear, see SC, Volumes 2, 11, 31, 46, and 61.
King Lear is widely regarded as one of Shakespeare's finest artistic achievements. Set in ancient Britain, the dark tragedy centers upon the foolish and ultimately destructive actions of a delusional king, who demands a display of love from his three daughters before dividing his kingdom among them. When his youngest daughter Cordelia refuses to take part in this empty ceremony, Lear banishes her, leaving her devious elder sisters Goneril and Regan to plot his overthrow. In the end, Lear realizes his misjudgment and dies holding the body of Cordelia, who has returned from France to fight for him. Since its introduction, King Lear has confounded audiences and scholars with its seemingly hopeless conclusion. For more than a century an alternative version of the play, with a more optimistic ending, was performed in its place. Shakespeare's original version was restored to the stage in the nineteenth century, and has since been widely performed and studied. Critics such as Helen Gardner (see Further Reading), who called King Lear “the most universal and profound of Shakespeare's plays,” have continued the process of explicating this complex drama. Others have attested to the extraordinary magnitude of scholarly interest in the work, including Richard Levin, whose 1997 study surveys recent feminist, new historical, and Marxist critical approaches to the play.
Shakespeare's delineation of character has long been a central component of scholarship regarding King Lear, with a majority of interest directed toward Lear and his daughters, especially Cordelia. Focusing on Lear and the subject of his madness, Josephine Waters Bennett (1962) demonstrates how Shakespeare deepened and intensified his tragic theme by shifting attention toward the internal conflict of the play's protagonist as he loses his sanity. Arthur Kirsch (1988) focuses on religious, specifically Christian, elements in the characters of King Lear. Kirsch concentrates on the figures of Lear and Cordelia, and examines their relation to motifs of love, suffering, and death. Michael Holahan (1997) focuses his inquiry on Cordelia, observing the ways in which she contributes to the process of “aesthetic closure” in the drama and analyzing her significant role in effecting change in the figure of Lear. In a break from more traditional criticism, feminist critic Carol Rutter (see Further Reading) looks to the expanded possibilities of character interpretation of Lear's daughters offered by stage performance. Rutter observes that conventional understandings of Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia have been constrained by patriarchal assumptions that generally fail to allow these figures more than stereotypical and superficial qualities.
Although not well-received in Shakespeare’s day, King Lear has gained popularity on the stage, especially since the twentieth century. In a review of the 2001 production of King Lear at the Globe Theatre, Heather Neill admires director Barry Kyle's directness and clarity in presenting the drama in both its bleak and humorous dimensions. Studying the same production, Stanton B. Garner, Jr. contends that the outdoor venue was quite detrimental to the production, which he faults for overemphasizing the comic effects and blunting the tragic atmosphere of Shakespeare's drama. In contrast, Richard Hornby calls Kyle's production the “salvation of the 2001 Globe season,” and offers complimentary assessments of both Julian Glover's robust Lear and Kyle's seamless direction and elegant use of theatrical space. Bruce Weber evaluates the 2001 international, multilingual, and deconstructive production of King Lear by the Belgian troupe Needcompany in Brooklyn. Weber finds director Jan Lauwers's energetic obliteration of theatrical conventions in regard to language and character compelling, if not completely satisfying. Matt Wolf comments on Jonathan Kent's 2002 staging of the drama at King's Cross for the Almeida Theatre in London. Wolf contends that the roaring aural effects and expressionistic lighting threatened to unbalance the production, but praises the cast, especially Oliver Ford Davies as King Lear. Critic Katherine Duncan-Jones also examines Kent’s production and praises the cast, including Davies's sympathetic if thoughtless Lear, but found Kent's design choices sometimes excessive. Overall, Duncan-Jones deems the “fast-moving” production, despite minor flaws, a significant one. John Stokes concurs, citing the emotional rendering of Lear's collapse into insanity as a central component of Kent's modern, yet “deeply humane” stage interpretation.
Thematic criticism of King Lear in the late twentieth century suggests a confluence of new and old critical traditions. Many recent commentators have continued to explore the drama in terms of A. C. Bradley's influential, early twentieth-century analysis, which privileged themes of suffering and redemption in the drama. Others have sought to apply contemporary poststructuralist and new historical methods to the work by uncovering ambiguities embedded in its rich, evocative language and archaic sources. In line with Bradley, Michael Goldman (1972) highlights a pattern of accumulated suffering in King Lear. Similarly, Edward Pechter (1978) analyzes the role of punishment, vengeance, and pain in the drama's subplot involving Gloucester, a nobleman loyal to Lear who suffers the cruelty of his bastard son Edmund just as Lear endures the wickedness of Goneril and Regan. Far from recapitulating Bradley's assessment, however, Pechter questions whether Gloucester and Lear achieve redemption in the drama. Considering the related topics of source material and theme, F. D. Hoeniger (1974) comments on the stark, primitive, and brutal form and meaning of King Lear, while Howard Felperin (1977) contends that the drama defies reductive analysis precisely because it manipulates the traditional models of tragedy that preceded it. James L. Calderwood (1986) remarks on the principal of “uncreation”—the movement from order to chaos—in King Lear, and contends that those seeking traditional closure or a cathartic resolution to the play are unlikely to find it. Finally, Lyell Asher (2000) studies the motif of lateness in King Lear, maintaining that Shakespeare's use of this motif compounds the tragedy and sense of hopelessness in the play.
Criticism: Overviews And General Studies
SOURCE: Levin, Richard. “King Lear Defamiliarized.” In “Lear” from Study to Stage: Essays in Criticism, edited by James Ogden and Arthur H. Scouten, pp. 146-71. Cranbury, N.J.: Associated University Presses, 1997.
[In the following essay, Levin summarizes critical approaches to King Lear from 1960 to 1984, citing Marxist, feminist, and new historicist—as opposed to formalist—interpretations of the play.]
We exist, it turns out, within a single broad universe of discourse and we now have some assurance that the [King Lear] each of us sees is, in some important particulars, the same play.
—Lawrence Danson (1981) 3
Greenblatt's King Lear is, in many ways, perfectly recognizable: good and evil are not in question; … nor is there any question of the human desires that the play engages.
—Jonathan Goldberg (1987) 243
Someone who has not kept up with current critical trends may have to be told that the statement in my second epigraph is meant to be an attack on Stephen Greenblatt's reading of King Lear. There was a time, not so long ago, when the most devastating thing one could say about an interpretation of a literary work was that it rendered the work unrecognizable, but now this is considered a very...
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Criticism: Character Studies
SOURCE: Bennett, Josephine Waters. “The Storm Within: The Madness of Lear.” Shakespeare Quarterly 13, no. 2 (spring 1962): 137-55.
[In the following essay, Bennett interprets Lear's internal struggle with insanity as it shapes and defines his character in King Lear.]
An understanding of Lear's madness is essential to any serious interpretation of the play and to any understanding of its structure. Yet critics have not agreed about when Lear goes mad, and almost no attention at all has been given to the dramatic function of his madness. Some put the onset of madness at the entrance of Edgar as Poor Tom of Bedlam in III. iv.1 Others would have it at the end of that scene.2 Coleridge thought that this scene ended “with the first symptoms of positive derangement”, but that Lear does not appear in “full madness” until III. vi.3 Granville-Barker agrees with Coleridge that III. vi, “the lunatic trial of Regan and Goneril”, is the high point of Lear's madness, but he describes IV.vi, Lear's encounter with Gloucester, as “another scene of madness for him, and one which lifts the play's argument to a yet rarer height.”4 Recently Dr. Sholom J. Kahn has gone a step further and singled out the stage direction, “Enter Lear mad”, IV.vi (Quarto text) as the earliest manifestation of full madness. He says of his article, “Briefly, we shall contend that...
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SOURCE: Kirsch, Arthur. “The Emotional Landscape of King Lear.” Shakespeare Quarterly 39, no. 2 (summer 1988): 154-70.
[In the following essay, Kirsch focuses on religious, specifically Christian, elements in the characters of King Lear. Kirsch concentrates on the figures of Lear and Cordelia, and examines their relation to motifs of love, suffering, and death.]
The tragedy of King Lear raises large religious, as well as political and social, questions, and there is a disposition in recent scholarship to treat the play as if it were an argument that gives unorthodox, if not revolutionary, answers to them. Prominent critics have contended that Lear is locked in combat with Elizabethan conceptions of Providence and order,1 and one influential Marxist critic has maintained that the play constitutes both a specific criticism of Elizabethan ideology and a denial of what he calls “essentialist humanism,” the belief that, with respect to tragedy, assumes “a human essence which by its own nature as well as its relation to the universal order of things, must inevitably suffer.”2
The current popularity of such views makes it urgent, I think, to reassert the less fashionable position that though Shakespeare is “the soul of [his] age,” as Ben Jonson wrote, he is also “not of an age, but for all time,” and that, as Dr. Johnson...
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SOURCE: Holahan, Michael. “‘Look, Her Lips’: Softness of Voice, Construction of Character in King Lear.” Shakespeare Quarterly 48, no. 4 (winter 1997): 406-31.
[In the following excerpt, Holahan studies the treatment of literary character in King Lear, stressing the construction and function of Cordelia in relation to Lear.]
Slack and sleeping senses must be addressed with thunder and heavenly fireworks. But the voice of beauty speaks gently: it creeps only into the most awakened souls.1
Twentieth-century theorists have been severe with the notion of literary character. It does not speak strongly to post-Victorian souls—to this century's skepticism toward moral and mimetic constructions. The New Criticism set character aside for finer patterns of imagery and wit or paradoxical structures of ironical tone. Myth criticism subsumed it in the more powerful archetype. Deconstruction, new historicism, and the related specialties of poststructural critique have viewed an obviously figurative construct with alert suspicion. It has seemed a rallying point for essentialist notions of the self, reinforcing a superficial moralism and commonsense psychology while all along remaining just rhetoric: ethos and pathos meeting in prosopographia. Nevertheless, the artifice of character is...
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Criticism: Production Reviews
SOURCE: Neill, Heather. Review of King Lear. Times Educational Supplement, no. 4431 (1 June 2001): S24.
[In the following review of director Barry Kyle's King Lear at the Globe, Neil admires the “clarity” of the staging and highlights themes of family and political disintegration in the production.]
The Globe is transformed for this first production of the theatre season. A rough plank facing hides the familiar decorated back of the stage, and swags of fairy-lit leaves and twigs are looped around the galleries. The latter add to a sense of occasion, but not perhaps the right one, being too reminiscent of a high street shop window at Christmas. The rough boards are, however, in keeping with the directness of Barry Kyle's production.
The interlinked stories of the two families of Lear and Gloucester provide a means of exploring wider disintegration, the breakdown of authority and accepted sexual morality, madness and civil strife. In Kyle's interpretation, there is more than a hint that Lear's action in breaking up the kingdom and attempting to divest himself of responsibility merely reveals the canker within. Kyle has said (not in the programme notes) that he would like people to guess from their looks that each of Lear's daughters has a different mother. Gloucester's only reference to the two women who gave birth to his sons, legitimate Edgar and bastard Edmund, is...
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SOURCE: Weber, Bruce. Review of King Lear. New York Times (2 November 2001): E6.
[In the following review, Weber evaluates Jan Lauwers's 2001 experimental interpretation of King Lear, noting the production's deconstructive approach to language and summarizing individual performances.]
If poetry is crucial to your appreciation of Shakespeare, you can pass on the King Lear by the Belgian theater troupe Needcompany, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theater through Sunday.
In fact, those who harbor expectations of any theatrical conventions at all would do well to abandon them before buying a ticket, lest the deconstructionist vision of the director, Jan Lauwers, drive them to the exits prematurely. Dozens of people at Wednesday night's opening performance obviously would have benefited from the warning.
With a trimmed script (the show runs just short of two and a half hours without intermission) and a cast of only 11 (two roles are doubled, with Josse De Pauw as Kent and the Fool and Dick Crane as Cornwall and Albany), the famous narrative of grueling parallel strife in a family and a kingdom is broken into barely recognizable shards.
That said, even accepting the counteraesthetics of deconstructionism, this Lear seems long on stridence and short on revelation. Speeches are sometimes declaimed at the audience,...
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SOURCE: Hornby, Richard. Review of King Lear. Hudson Review 54, no. 4 (winter 2002): 657-63.
[In the following review, Hornby comments on Barry Kyle's 2001 staging of King Lear at the Globe, acknowledging its excellent use of design and blocking, as well as Julian Glover's dynamic Lear.]
The salvation of the 2001 Globe season was the production of King Lear, starring Julian Glover, and directed by Barry Kyle, a former associate of the Royal Shakespeare Company who understands the principles of staging and knows a thing or two about Shakespeare. Designs were by Hayden Griffin, another distinguished professional in his Globe debut. His costumes—modern with antique variations—were particularly effective. This was not a reconstruction of what the original 1605 production might have been like—the idea of having one such production each season at the Globe fell by the wayside a few years ago—but a vigorous, contemporary rendering that used the Globe in imaginative, intelligent ways.
The opening love contest immediately showed Kyle's ability to seize the essence of a scene. It is, of course, yet another Shakespearean ceremony, made all the more poignant when it all falls awry. If it is staged casually, then Cordelia's loathing of the artificiality of the ritual will have no impact; she will just seem like a spoiled child sneering at her nice old dad. Kyle placed a...
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SOURCE: Wolf, Matt. Review of King Lear. Variety 386, no. 1 (18 February 2002): 42-3.
[In the following review, Wolf finds Jonathan Kent's 2002 modernistic staging of King Lear at King's Cross generally well-realized, and praises the performance of Oliver Ford Davies as Lear.]
There comes a time in any worthwhile production of King Lear—and Jonathan Kent's largely stirring Almeida production is certainly that—when the sorrowful heart of this mightiest of plays bursts wide open. That moment arrives relatively early in this final Kent staging after a decade co-running (with Ian McDiarmid) the Almeida, to generally thrilling results. (The pair step down in July.) In one of his many spasms of rage, Oliver Ford Davies' Lear smashes the elongated mirror by his desk, returning to it soon after in fearful recognition of the damage he has wrought “O let me not be mad,” he says prayerfully, the shattered glass offering its own silent rebuke. By then, the die is cast and Lear's decline is clear, his downward journey a march toward chaos that gets tempered too late by love.
Kent planned his farewell production around Ford Davies; this is their fifth collaboration. The playhouse is perhaps best known internationally for its visiting stars (Cate Blanchett, Juliette Binoche, Kevin Spacey), but it has been no less crucial for allowing British actors—whether Oscar nominees...
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SOURCE: Duncan-Jones, Katherine. Review of King Lear. New Statesman 131, no. 4575 (25 February 2002): 42, 44.
[In the following review of Jonathan Kent's production of King Lear for the Almeida Theatre, Duncan-Jones praises the combined performances—including Oliver Ford Davies's Lear and those of the supporting cast—but laments weaknesses in setting and design.]
King Lear, with which the Almeida Theatre's run at King's Cross is coming to a close, gives the company a last opportunity to showcase the theatrical potential of an old bus depot. Two possibilities must have presented themselves: a primitive Lear, or an explicit “bus depot” one. The first would have permitted use of the deep, dark spaces of the huge playing area to represent the uncultivated tracts of pre-Christian Britain, in which “For many miles about / There's scarce a bush.” In the second, a 1950s bus shelter could have figured as the hovel in which Lear and his fellow outcasts spend an uncomfortable night: you shout for ages in the rain and then three madmen turn up at once. Either of these settings would support Lear's essentialist belief in his own kingly status, whether as feudal lord or beneficiary of post-coronation popularity.
Interestingly, Jonathan Kent and the set designer, Paul Brown, have taken a third way, choosing to alter the space radically rather than draw attention...
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SOURCE: Stokes, John. Review of King Lear. Times Literary Supplement, no. 5161 (1 March 2002): 20.
[In the following review of Jonathan Kent's staging of King Lear at King's Cross for the Almeida Theatre, Stokes lauds the production's “high aesthetic” style and Oliver Ford Davies's Alzheimer's-informed Lear.]
The actor Tim Pigott-Smith said on the radio recently that one of the greatest strengths of the Almeida Theatre while it has been under the artistic control of Jonathan Kent and Ian MacDiarmid is that it has remained “an actor's theatre”. The word “actor” here was probably in silent opposition to “accountant”, rather than to director or to designer, since Kent and McDiarmid have constantly enlarged their theatrical ambitions, often in expensive ways, so that their company might give the best of itself. There has been a consistency of prioritles that amounts to something like a style. Of course, the plays themselves have had a lot to do with it. Unlike Sam Mendes's Donmar, the Almeida has shown little interest in American musical theatre; unlike the Royal Court, its sense of the contemporary has only occasionally got beyond Friel, Hare, Barker and Pinter; unlike the Young Vic, it hasn't relied on visitors. The repertoire has been uncompromising: Racine, Pirandello, Molière, O'Casey, Shaw, Marivaux, Euripides and Wedekind, a serious and largely European canon. The...
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SOURCE: Garner, Stanton B., Jr. Review of King Lear. Theatre Journal 54 (2002): 139-66.
[In the following excerpted review of Barry Kyle's Globe Theatre production of King Lear, Garner observes that the Globe stage is not well-suited to the tragic elements of the drama, and cites a number of weak individual performances within the drama's main plot.]
Presented with Macbeth and Cymbeline as part of the Globe's “Celtic Season 2001,” Kyle's King Lear is a starkly theatrical interpretation of Shakespeare's vast tragedy. The Globe stage is reduced to its forestage playing area, and the backdrop of its set is built out of weathered boards. In keeping with the production's scenic severity, what few props there are contribute to the effect of roughness and plainness. Lear's kingdom has a totalitarian feel to it: the men of his retinue are clad in boots, and their clothes (a mixture of the Jacobean and the modern) are neo-fascist in appearance. Carousing on stage, kicking a soccer ball as they make their way through the audience, they resemble a gang of thugs.
Julian Glover's Lear, the presiding authority of this world, is a stern and volatile figure, assured in his power over his kingdom while given to outbursts of rage and violence. When Cordelia refuses to gratify his ego, he hurls her roughly to the stage floor. As the consequences of his decision to...
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SOURCE: Goldman, Michael. “The Worst of King Lear.” In Shakespeare and the Energies of Drama, pp. 94-108. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1972.
[In the following essay, Goldman argues that King Lear is essentially a play about suffering.]
At the end of IV, i of King Lear, Gloucester directs Edgar to take him to Dover. His words, like so many in the play, seem to have a wide and rich application to its entire action:
There is a cliff, whose high and bending head Looks fearfully in the confined deep. Bring me but to the very brim of it, And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear With something rich about me.
Taken by themselves, these lines constitute a little poem on the nature of tragedy. Like Lear, in whom Nature stands on the verge of her confine, Gloucester is made to see (in spite of his blindness) deep into the fearful abyss (“How fearful / And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low”). We do not accompany Lear beyond the edge. (We cannot, for example, tell what his last glimpse of Cordelia's lips has shown him.) Indeed we are frequently made to feel how hard it is to follow him as far as we do, but we sense that by accompanying him, with effort, in his trip to the brink, we are given “something rich about him” that is somehow related to the misery we bear.
Of course the misery we...
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SOURCE: Hoeniger, F. D. “The Artist Exploring the Primitive: King Lear.” In Some Facets of “King Lear”: Essays in Prismatic Criticism, edited by Rosalie L. Colie and F. T. Flahiff, pp. 89-102. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974.
[In the following essay, Hoeniger concentrates on archaic sources and themes associated with nature in King Lear.]
There may once have been a King Lear in ancient Britain after whom the city of Leicester was named, and perhaps he had three daughters. But the story about him which Shakespeare retells, both in the form in which he found it and the form into which he cast it, is highly unreal, utterly remote from any familiar history. King Lear lived, according to Tudor historians, at some vague time during the era of the Kings of Judea. Of the mocking prophecy which the Fool recites at the end of 3.2, he says that it will be made by Merlin, ‘for I live before his time.’ The events of the play are as unreal as its chronology: no king within reliably recorded history, we may be sure, ever performed as Lear does in the opening scene. Nor do we believe that any young sixteenth-century nobleman, cast out by his father, ever disguised himself as Tom of Bedlam—and it is difficult to think of Edgar's encounters with the mad king and his own blinded father as anything that could ‘really’ happen. And what of Gloucester's jump, on the level stage, from what he...
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SOURCE: Felperin, Howard. “Plays within Plays: Othello, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra.” In Shakespearean Representation: Mimesis and Modernity in Elizabethan Tragedy, pp. 68-117. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1977.
[In the following excerpt, Felperin suggests that Shakespeare's King Lear defies both simple moral and absurdist readings—the two principal modes of mid-twentieth century critical interpretation of the drama.]
The ways in which a play's central interpretive problem arises from specific changes Shakespeare has wrought on his traditional models are particularly clear and traceable in the case of King Lear. At least as early as Samuel Johnson's pained observations on the ending of the play, interpretation has concerned itself with what to make of Shakespeare's alteration of the traditional story of Lear and Cordelia away from poetic justice and toward unprecedented suffering. As everyone knows, all of Shakespeare's immediate sources—the old play King Leir, Holinshed's Chronicles, Spenser's Faerie Queene, and A Mirror for Magistrates—present Lear and Cordelia triumphant at last, with virtue rewarded and vice punished. Though some versions return Cordelia to prison, the victim of further rebellion and finally her own suicide, these events occur after Lear's vindication and peaceful death. Moreover, Shakespeare has made...
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SOURCE: Pechter, Edward. “On the Blinding of Gloucester.” ELH 45, no. 2 (summer 1978): 181-200.
[In the following essay, Pechter elucidates a pattern of vengeance, punishment, and suffering in King Lear.]
We are in the midst of a revolution in Lear criticism. Only six years ago A. L. French declared:
I can confidently say that there is a received reading of Lear—‘received’ in the sense that pretty well everyone seems to accept it. It is a reading that reached full explicitness in Bradley … [who] proposed that we should change the title to “The Redemption of King Lear”, because the intention of the gods was ‘neither to torment him, nor to teach him a “noble anger,” but to lead him to attain through apparently hopeless failure the very end and aim of life’. In the Bradleyan context, ‘redemption’, and … ‘purification’ … don't have any specifically theological overtones; but in his successors such overtones become deafening and are generally associated with a sort of unctuous religiosity which I, for one, find most distateful in itself as well as absurdly inappropriate to the spirit of Shakespeare's play.1
French writes more in prophetic anger than in sorrow, but he is no longer prophetically alone. A large number of powerful articles and books in the last few years have turned the...
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SOURCE: Calderwood, James L. “Creative Uncreation in King Lear.” Shakespeare Quarterly 37, no. 1 (spring 1986): 5-19.
[In the following essay, Calderwood remarks on the principal of “uncreation”—the movement from order to chaos—in King Lear.]
Throughout his career, from the saintly Henry VI sitting on his molehill during the battle of Towton to Prospero breaking his staff and drowning his book, Shakespeare was apparently fascinated with the concept of abdication and truancy. Prince Hal plays truant from his royal studies, Hamlet from his revengeful duties, and Antony from his Roman wars. The academicians in Love's Labor's Lost retreat from the world and women, King John tells the Bastard Faulconbridge “Have thou the ordering of this present time,” Richard II deposes himself with histrionic relish, Duke Vincentio retreats into dark corners, and Lear formally abdicates. Perhaps we may sense in these depictions of royal withdrawal an impulse on Shakespeare's part to abandon not necessarily London for the rusticity of Stratford, but his own responsibility as playwright exercising authority over his theatrical subjects. In any event, on at least one occasion, when he composes the choruses of Henry V, we find him explicitly renouncing his authority as sole creator and regarding the play as issuing from the cooperative imagination of his audience as well. What then of...
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SOURCE: Asher, Lyell. “Lateness in King Lear.” Yale Journal of Criticism 13, no. 2 (2000): 209-28.
[In the following essay, Lyell analyzes Lear's tragedy as it is delineated and compounded via the motif of lateness.]
If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, my pride, my glory dies … true, but the life that's left me will be long, the stroke of death will not come on me quickly.
—Achilles, in The Iliad
Foolish the friends who called me happy then Whose fall shows how my foothold was unsure.
—Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy
—Bad enough! The same old story! When one has finished building one's houses, one suddenly realizes that in the process one has learned something that one really needed to know in the worst way—before one began. The eternal distasteful “too late!” The melancholy of everything finished!—
—Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
It is an axiom of Shakespearean tragedy, and perhaps of tragedy generally, that knowledge always arrives, if it arrives at all, belatedly. When Diomedes brings news to the dying Antony that Cleopatra is in fact alive, he could be speaking for knowledge itself when he says “I am come, / I dread, too late.”1 In the context of the scene, Diomedes simply means that he is too...
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Bennett, Susan. “Godard and Lear: Trashing the Can(n)on.” Theatre Survey 39, no. 1 (May 1998): 7-19.
Evaluates Jean-Luc Godard's celluloid adaptation of King Lear in the contexts of postmodern film and literature.
Buechner, Frederick. “Part 4.” In Speak What We Feel (Not What We Ought to Say): Reflections on Literature and Faith, pp. 125-54. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001.
Offers a reading of King Lear that is particularly informed by themes of love and mercy.
Danson, Lawrence. “King Lear.” In Tragic Alphabet: Shakespeare's Drama of Language, pp. 163-97. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974.
Offers a thematic analysis of King Lear from the perspective of the drama's language, and additionally assesses structural patterns associated with ritual, madness, and suffering.
Davis, Nick. “‘These Late Eclipses’: Reason's Primal Scene.” In Stories of Chaos: Reason and Its Displacement in Early Modern English Narrative, pp. 121-58. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 1999.
Poststructuralist assessment of King Lear based upon motifs of written communication and mathematical calculation in the drama.
de Grazia, Margreta. “The Ideology of Superfluous Things: King...
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