How Does the character and reign of King Lear in William Shakespeare's 'King Lear' relate to Queen Elizabeth I and King James I?I am studying William Shakespeare's 'King Lear' at high school and my...

How Does the character and reign of King Lear in William Shakespeare's 'King Lear' relate to Queen Elizabeth I and King James I?

I am studying William Shakespeare's 'King Lear' at high school and my taskis to find out how King Lear's character and reign throughout the relates to that of Elizabeth I and King James I

Asked on by doreen123

2 Answers | Add Yours

jilllessa's profile pic

jilllessa | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

You could say that the character of King Lear relates to Elizabeth and James I because both had a reputation for preferring fawning courtiers over true advice.  With Elizabeth the courtiers were usually men seeking her favors.  With James I, many say the same is true, he preferred good looking young men who fawned over him, protesting their love.   But I really think that Lear relates more to Henry VIII, the father of Queen Elizabeth. 

 Henry also had three children, by three different women and he played them against each other to the detriment of the kingdom and was more interested in lip service than in true loyalty.  He even had his best friend, Thomas More, put to death for a treason which was only verbal.   Henry could not abide anyone disagreeing with his smallest whim.  He divorced two of his six wives and beheaded two for disloyalty.  By the time Henry died he had managed to alienate anyone who had ever truly cared about him so that his death was essentially unmourned.  While he did not abdicate his throne, the succession games he played with his three children wreaked havoc on the country. Edward's reign was dominated rival regents.   Mary Tudor (not the Mary, Queen of Scots referred to above), a bitter spinster when she came throne spent her reign killing Protestants and suffering hysterical pregnancies in her desperate and unpopular marriage to the King of Spain.  Thus Elizabeth is more like Cordelia as she is the true and responsible heir.

sagetrieb's profile pic

sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

England's monarchy would be very concerned about a king abdicating his responsibilities; they would be even more concerned about a king dividing his kingdom among several daughters rather than bequeathing it to one.  Either of these actions could have disastrous results for a nation, and the monarch of England would be well aware of this, especially given the tumultuous events of Elizabeth claim to the throne when it was contested by Mary.  Indeed, Elizabeth had Mary executed, in hre view, to unite the country. 

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,991 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question