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William Shakespeare


William Shakespeare s King Lear Date of Composition and Source Most difficult play to pin down Written after Hamlet and Othello Winter of 1605-1606 Leir a ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: William Shakespeare

William Shakespeares King Lear
Date of Composition and Source
  • Most difficult play to pin down
  • Written after Hamlet and Othello
  • Winter of 1605-1606
  • Leir a folk legend king who never actually
  • Published during his life time

Lear and European History
  • One of the few plays to take place in Britain
    (except Histories)
  • Similar to other tragedies- nobility
  • Believed to be during the Hundred Years War
  • France loses the battle

The Hundred Years War What was it?
  • long struggle between England and France over the
    throne of France.
  • lasted from 1337 to 1453
  • success see-saws back and forth
  • 1415 - King Henry V of England conquers large
    parts of France wins extraordinary concessions
  • 1422 - France takes control again
  • Joan of Arc (a young mystic) leads the final
    charge to win the throne back for France

The Plot and Subplot Two Parallel Stories
  • Lear and his daughters Main Plot
  • Edgar and his father and brother subplot
  • Parallel stories their closeness in plot and
    direction render them mirrors of each other
  • Both Lear and Gloucester have faith in the wrong
    child and reject the right one
  • Hook begins in media res (in the middle of
    things) Kent, Gloucester (Gloss ter), and Edmund
    enter stage already in conversation

Aristotelian Hamartia
  • Poetics tragic hero is one who is guilty of
    hamartia, and perhaps hubris
  • Hamartia error of judgment
  • Hubris excessive pride
  • Lear is guilty of both
  • Existential Hero architect of his own ruin
  • Fall from high to low

  • King Lear-Aging King of Britain
  • Cordelia-Lears youngest daughter, disowned for
    refusing to flatter him
  • Kent-Nobleman who is loyal to Lear, but outspoken
  • Gloucester-Nobleman to Lear, suffers a parallel
  • Edgar-Gloucesters older legitimate son
  • Fool- Lears court jester who gives important

Characters- Evil
  • Edmund-Gloucesters Bastard Son who resents his
    position cunning in his schemes
  • Regan (wife of Cornwall) and Goneril (wife of
    Albany)- Lears daughters who are interested in
    power and do not care about their father
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