Wednesday, February 25, 2015

King Lear

King Lear, by William Shakespeare

 For the Literary Movement Challenge, Fanda asked readers to focus on drama.  Before I figured that out, I was considering reading Tyndale's Obedience of a Christian Man and worrying that I would never be able to read it in the time.  I still plan to read Tyndale but it was somewhat easier to read a couple of Shakespeare plays for February. 

Cordelia in the court of King Lear, by Ford Madox Brown
King Lear is a fairy tale cast as a historical event and tragedy.  Lear was a legendary pre-Roman king in Britain; he appears (spelled Leir) in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, and in Holinshed, where Shakespeare got the story.   Lear, a rather silly king, decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters based on how fervently they declare their love for him.  The two older sisters walk off with the swag, and youngest Cordelia, who honestly loves her father but refuses to flatter him, is disinherited.  Lear soon finds that his older daughters have little respect for a father without power, and he runs off into the wilderness and goes mad.  Meanwhile, Edmund the schemer is plotting to get his legitimate brother disinherited so that he can have all the power.  In fact, why shouldn't he kill off his father too, and marry one of the new queens?

Bonus: Dwight at Common Reader just posted some great Lear material.  Click on over to his post for a handy cartoon guide to the characters and plot, and a highly entertaining rating of Falling Gloucesters.

Fanda asks us to discuss whether the writers we read for this challenge fit into the literary movement we chose.  Well, I played it pretty safe with this month, because Shakespeare is the epitome of the English Renaissance, right?   I probably should have shaken it up a bit and read Dekker or Marlowe, but I'd been wanting to read King Lear anyway.  And I really can't stand Dekker.

The majority of the action takes place at the castle of the Earl of Gloucester, though it does move to Dover in the later part of the play.  I am going to count it for Gloucestershire.

1 comment:

Dwight said...

Good Tickle Brain has lots of great stuff...glad you liked it.

If the Stratford Festival version I saw last night makes it to video I highly recommend watching it. I really enjoyed it!