Frank Kermode, a great literary critic, argues that King Lear is Shakespeare’s cruelest play, forcing us to look at certain things that we prefer not to look at, such as death or the way the world works, which is never the way we want it to work. We live in a society that depends upon our belief in it and in our belief in others, too. Without that belief in our society and in others, we would have no shelter—just as Lear literally has no shelter in the play. Sanity, dignity and love—these depend upon a structure of belief which might even be an illusion—which is what Lear discovers, and when he does, the world becomes an instrument of torture: he finds himself bound upon a wheel of fire pushed by fortune. Lear, then, finds himself stripped of everything we take for granted in a civilized, good life, a terrifying possibility for him as well as for us now in world filled with war, the destruction of the environment, hunger, poverty, homelessness, and all the other things that might not happen to you or to me, but could. This is why King Lear transcends time and cultures as well. The link below offers some responses other cultures have made to this timeless play with universal themes.