During the 17th century, Shakespeare’s tragic ending was much criticised and alternative versions were written by Nahum Tate, in which the leading characters survived and
Edgar and Cordelia were married (despite the fact that Cordelia was previously betrothed to the King of France).
 A significant issue in the dating of the play is the relationship of King Lear to the play titled The True Chronicle History of the Life and Death of King Leir and his
Three Daughters, which was published for the first time after its entry in the Stationers’ Register of 8 May 1605.
 Hadfield also argued that the world of Lear’s court is “childish” with Lear presenting himself as the father of the nation and requiring all of his subjects, not just
his children, to address him in paternal terms, which infantises most of the people around him, which pointedly references James’s statement in his 1598 book The Trew Law of Free Monarchies that the king is the “father of the nation”, for
whom all of his subjects are his children.
 Changes from source material Cordelia, Alexander Johnston (artist) (c.1894) Besides the subplot involving the Earl of Gloucester and his sons, the principal innovation
Shakespeare made to this story was the death of Cordelia and Lear at the end; in the account by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Cordelia restores Lear to the throne, and succeeds him as ruler after his death.
There are two strongly contrasting views of human nature in the play: that of the Lear party (Lear, Gloucester, Albany, Kent), exemplifying the philosophy of Bacon and Hooker,
and that of the Edmund party (Edmund, Cornwall, Goneril, Regan), akin to the views later formulated by Hobbes, though the latter had not yet begun his philosophy career when Lear was first performed.
 As Bloom indicates: “At the close of Shakespeare’s revised King Lear, a reluctant Edgar becomes King of Britain, accepting his destiny but in the accents of despair.
 Harold Bloom argues that King Lear transcends a morality system entirely, and thus is one of the major triumphs of the play.
 King Lear is also a literary variant of a common folk tale, Love Like Salt, Aarne–Thompson type 923, in which a father rejects his youngest daughter for a statement of
her love that does not please him.
The older society, that of the medieval vision, with its doting king, falls into error, and is threatened by the new Machiavellianism; it is regenerated and saved by a vision
of a new order, embodied in the king’s rejected daughter.
 Just as the House of Commons had argued to James that their loyalty was to the constitution of England, not to the King personally, Kent insists his loyalty is institutional,
not personal, as he is loyal to the realm of which the king is head, not to Lear himself, and he tells Lear to behave better for the good of the realm.
The King of France is shocked by Lear’s decision because up until this time Lear has only praised and favoured Cordelia (“… she whom even but now was your best object, /
The argument of your praise, balm of your age, …”).
 Three daughters of King Lear by Gustav Pope The play also contains references to disputes between King James I and Parliament.
When it is finally the turn of his youngest and favourite daughter, Cordelia, at first she refuses to say anything (“Nothing, my Lord”) and then declares there is nothing
to compare her love to, no words to express it properly; she says honestly but bluntly that she loves him according to her bond, no more and no less, and will reserve half of her love for her future husband.
The dying Edmund decides, though he admits it is against his own character, to try to save Lear and Cordelia, but his confession comes too late.
 This is related to the way some sources cite that at the end of the narrative, King Lear raged against heaven before eventually dying in despair with the death of Cordelia.
 By contrast, Lear makes an argument similar to James that as king, he holds absolute power and could disregard the views of his subjects if they displease him whenever
 The play begins with Lear ruling all of Britain and ends with him destroying his realm; the critic Andrew Hadfield argued that the division of Britain by Lear was an
inversion of the unification of Britain by James, who believed his policies would result in a well governed and prosperous unified realm being passed on to his heir.
 Kent criticises Oswald as a man unworthy of office who has only been promoted because of his sycophancy, telling Lear that he should be loyal to those who are willing
to tell him the truth, a statement that many in England wished that James would heed.
 In the play, the characters like the Fool, Kent and Cordelia, whose loyalties are institutional, seeing their first loyalty to the realm, are portrayed more favorably
than those like Regan and Goneril, who insist they are only loyal to the king, seeing their loyalties as personal.
Lear’s contest of love between Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia serves as the binding agreement; his daughters will get their inheritance provided that they care for him, especially
Cordelia, on whose “kind nursery” he will greatly depend.
 Furthermore, James VI of Scotland inherited the throne of England upon the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, thereby uniting the kingdoms of the island of Britain into one,
and a major issue of his reign was the attempt to forge a common British identity.
[page needed] William R. Elton stresses the pre-Christian setting of the play, writing that, “Lear fulfills the criteria for pagan behavior in life,” falling “into total
blasphemy at the moment of his irredeemable loss”.
 However, this explanation is faulty, because James’ older son, Prince Henry, held the title Duke of Cornwall at the same time.
Edmund is the New Man, a member of an age of competition, suspicion, glory, in contrast with the older society which has come down from the Middle Ages, with its belief in
co-operation, reasonable decency, and respect for the whole as greater than the part.
Alternatively, an analysis based on Adlerian theory suggests that the King’s contest among his daughters in Act I has more to do with his control over the unmarried Cordelia.
According to Kahn, Lear’s old age forces him to regress into an infantile disposition, and he now seeks a love that is traditionally satisfied by a mothering woman, but in
the absence of a real mother, his daughters become the mother figures.
The play was often revised after the English Restoration for audiences who disliked its dark and depressing tone, but since the 19th century Shakespeare’s original play has
been regarded as one of his supreme achievements.
 Hadfield argued that the play was meant as a warning to James as in the play a monarch loses everything by giving in to his sycophantic courtiers who only seek to use
him while neglecting those who truly loved him.
As Harold Bloom states: “Tate’s version held the stage for almost 150 years, until Edmund Kean reinstated the play’s tragic ending in 1823.
King Lear, in preparation for his old age, divides his power and land to two of his daughters.
This argument, however, was not widely discussed until the late 1970s, when it was revived, principally by Michael Warren and Gary Taylor, who discuss a variety of theories
including Doran’s idea that the Quarto may have been printed from Shakespeare’s foul papers, and that the Folio may have been printed from a promptbook prepared for a production.
 The MP Thomas Wentworth, the son of another MP Peter Wentworth—often imprisoned under Elizabeth for raising the question of the succession in the Commons—was most forceful
in protesting James’s attempts to reduce the powers of the House of Commons, saying the King could not just declare the results of an election invalid if he disliked who had won the seat as he was insisting that he could.
Kent and Cordelia take charge of Lear, whose madness quickly passes.
Characters • Lear – King of Britain • Earl of Gloucester • Earl of Kent – later disguised as Caius • Fool – Lear’s fool • Edgar – Gloucester’s first-born son • Edmund – Gloucester’s
illegitimate son • Goneril – Lear’s eldest daughter • Regan – Lear’s second daughter • Cordelia – Lear’s youngest daughter • Duke of Albany – Goneril’s husband • Duke of Cornwall – Regan’s husband • Gentleman – attends Cordelia • Oswald –
Goneril’s loyal steward • King of France – suitor and later husband to Cordelia • Duke of Burgundy – suitor to Cordelia • Old man – tenant of Gloucester • Curan – courtier • Plot Act I Cordelia in the Court of King Lear (1873) by Sir
John Gilbert King Lear of Britain, elderly and wanting to retire from the duties of the monarchy, decides to divide his realm among his three daughters, and declares he will offer the largest share to the one who loves him most.
 Other possible sources are the anonymous play King Leir (published in 1605); The Mirror for Magistrates (1574), by John Higgins; The Malcontent (1604), by John Marston;
The London Prodigal (1605); Montaigne’s Essays, which were translated into English by John Florio in 1603; An Historical Description of Iland of Britaine (1577), by William Harrison; Remaines Concerning Britaine (1606), by William Camden;
Albion’s England (1589), by William Warner; and A Declaration of egregious Popish Impostures (1603), by Samuel Harsnett, which provided some of the language used by Edgar while he feigns madness.
While the presence of Roman religion in Britain is technically an anachronism, nothing was known about any religion that existed in Britain at the time of Lear’s alleged life.
Nevertheless, Shakespeare’s understanding of the New Man is so extensive as to amount almost to sympathy.
 The character of Kent resembles Peter Wentworth in the way which is tactless and blunt in advising Lear, but his point is valid that Lear should be more careful with
his friends and advisers.
 Other critics who find no evidence of redemption and emphasise the horrors of the final act include John Holloway[page needed] and Marvin Rosenberg.
Therefore, when the play begins with Lear rejecting his daughter, it can be interpreted as him rejecting death; Lear is unwilling to face the finitude of his being.
In Shakespeare’s version, Cornwall is killed by a servant who objects to the torture of the Earl of Gloucester, while Albany is one of the few surviving main characters.
Kent declines, explaining that his master is calling him on a journey and he must follow.
After receiving news of Cornwall’s death, she fears her newly widowed sister may steal Edmund and sends him a letter through Oswald.
Along with the two views of Nature, the play contains two views of Reason, brought out in Gloucester and Edmund’s speeches on astrology (1.2).
It is only with Cordelia’s death that his fantasy of a daughter-mother ultimately diminishes, as King Lear concludes with only male characters living.
 Among those who argue that Lear is redeemed in the Christian sense through suffering are A.C. Bradley and John Reibetanz, who has written: “through his sufferings,
Lear has won an enlightened soul”.
The play’s poignant ending scene, wherein Lear carries the body of his beloved Cordelia, was of great importance to Freud.
The characters of Earl “Caius” of Kent and The Fool were created wholly by Shakespeare in order to engage in character-driven conversations with Lear.
The eldest, Goneril, speaks first, declaring her love for her father in fulsome terms.
Kent later follows to protect him.
 Shakespeare had particular intentions with Cordelia’s death, and was the only writer to have Cordelia killed (in the version by Nahum Tate, she continues to live happily,
and in Holinshed’s, she restores her father and succeeds him).
 Conversely, Frank Kermode, in the Riverside Shakespeare, considers the publication of Leir to have been a response to performances of Shakespeare’s already-written play;
noting a sonnet by William Strachey that may have verbal resemblances with Lear, Kermode concludes that “1604–05 seems the best compromise”.
The words “nature”, “natural”, and “unnatural” occur over forty times in the play, reflecting a debate in Shakespeare’s time about what nature really was like; this debate
pervades the play and finds symbolic expression in Lear’s changing attitude to Thunder.
Act III King Lear, Benjamin West (1788) Kent tells a gentleman that a French army has landed in Britain, aiming to reinstate Lear to the throne.
“ The tragedy of Lear’s lack of understanding of the consequences of his demands and actions is often observed to be like that of a spoiled child, but it has also been
noted that his behaviour is equally likely to be seen in parents who have never adjusted to their children having grown up.
It is right for man to feel, as Edmund does, that society exists for man, not man for society.
Historicist interpretations John F. Danby, in his Shakespeare’s Doctrine of Nature – A Study of King Lear (1949), argues that Lear dramatizes, among other things, the
current meanings of “Nature”.
Cordelia’s refusal to dedicate herself to him and love him as more than a father has been interpreted by some as a resistance to incest, but Kahn also inserts the image of
a rejecting mother.
“ Holinshed states that the story is set when Joash was King of Judah (c. 800 BC), while Shakespeare avoids dating the setting, only suggesting that it is sometime in
the pre-Christian era.
He tricks his father with a forged letter, making him think that Edgar plans to usurp the estate.
 Given the absence of legitimate mothers in King Lear, Coppélia Kahn provides a psychoanalytic interpretation of the “maternal subtext” found in the play.
Shakespeare’s play is based on various accounts of the semi-legendary Brythonic figure Leir of Britain, whose name has been linked by some scholars[who?]
Edgar pretends to lead Gloucester to a cliff, then changes his voice and tells Gloucester he has miraculously survived a great fall.
Early editors, beginning with Alexander Pope, conflated the two texts, creating the modern version that has been commonly used since.
Goneril and Regan speak privately, revealing that their declarations of love were false and that they view Lear as a foolish old man.
Act V Lear and Cordelia by Ford Madox Brown The victorious British leaders meet, and the recently widowed Regan now declares she will marry Edmund.
Taking advantage of the arrival of the duke and Regan, Edmund fakes an attack by Edgar, and Gloucester is completely taken in.
This betrayal of reason lies behind the play’s later emphasis on feeling.
Bearing Lear’s message to Regan, Kent meets Oswald again at Gloucester’s home, quarrels with him again and is put in the stocks by Regan and her husband Cornwall.
Critics are divided on the question of whether King Lear represents an affirmation of a particular Christian doctrine.
Shakespeare refers to these characters by their titles only, and also changes the nature of Albany from a villain to a hero, by reassigning Albany’s wicked deeds to Cornwall.
The two sisters lust for Edmund, who has made promises to both.
Moved by her flattery, Lear proceeds to grant to Goneril her share as soon as she has finished her declaration, before Regan and Cordelia have a chance to speak.
[‘The 1619 quarto is part of William Jaggard’s so-called False Folio.
2. ^ Jean I. Marsden cites Tate’s Lear line 5.6.119.
3. ^ Quoted by Jean I. Marsden.
4. ^ Jean I. Marsden cites Gray’s Inn Journal 12 January 1754.
5. ^ Quoted
by Stanley Wells.
6. ^ According to Ronald Harwood, quoted by Stanley Wells.
7. ^ This version appears on the British Film Institute video compilation Silent Shakespeare (1999).
8. ^ The original title of this film in Cyrillic script
is Король Лир and the sources anglicise it with different spellings. Daniel Rosenthal gives it as Korol Lir, while Douglas Brode gives it as Karol Lear.
9. ^ Pauline Kael’s New Yorker review is quoted by Douglas Brode.
10. ^ Both
quoted by Douglas Brode.
11. ^ Quoted by Douglas Brode.
12. King Lear, 1.1.246–248.
13. ^ Jackson 1953, p. 459.
14. ^ Ekwall 1928, p. xlii.
15. ^ Stevenson 1918.
16. ^ Foakes 1997, pp. 94–96.
17. ^ Hadfield 2007, p. 208.
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19. ^ Ashliman 2013.
20. ^ McNeir 1968.
21. ^ Bloom 2008, p. 53.
22. ^ Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare, Volume II, section “King Lear”.
23. ^ Kermode 1974, p. 1249.
24. ^ Foakes 1997, pp. 89–90.
25. ^ Kermode
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26. ^ King Lear, 1.2.103
27. ^ King Lear, 1.2.139
28. ^ Shaheen 1999, p. 606.
29. ^ Foakes Ard3, p. 111
30. ^ Foakes Ard3, p. 111
31. ^ Foakes Ard3, p. 113
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35. ^ Foakes 1997, p. 107.
36. ^ Jump up to:a b Danby 1949, p. 50.
37. ^ Danby 1949, p. 151.
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39. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Hadfield 2004, p. 105.
40. ^ Jump up to:a b Hadfield 2004, pp. 105–106.
41. ^ Hadfield 2004, pp. 98–99.
42. ^ Jump up to:a b c Hadfield 2004, p. 99.
43. ^ Hadfield 2004, pp.
44. ^ Brown 2001, p. 19.
45. ^ Brown 2001, p. 20.
46. ^ Kahn 1986.
47. ^ Freud 1997, p. 120.
48. ^ McLaughlin 1978, p. 39.
49. ^ Croake 1983, p. 247.
50. ^ Jump up to:a b Bloom 2008, p. 317.
51. ^ Kamaralli 2015.
52. ^ Jump
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53. ^ Jump up to:a b Kronenfeld 1998, p. 181.
54. ^ Bradley 1905, p. 285.
55. ^ Reibetanz 1977, p. 108.
56. ^ Holloway 1961.
57. ^ Rosenberg 1992.
58. ^ Elton 1988, p. 260.
59. ^ Pierce 2008, p. xx.
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62. ^ Nestruck 2016.
63. ^ Gay 2002, p. 171.
64. ^ Cavendish 2016.
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66. ^ Thomson 2002, p. 143.
67. ^ Taylor 2002, p. 6.
68. ^ Hunter 1972, p. 45.
69. ^ Taylor 2002, pp. 18–19.
70. ^ Gurr & Ichikawa 2000, pp. 53–54.
71. ^ Marsden 2002, p. 21.
72. ^ Taylor 2003, pp. 324–325.
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74. ^ Armstrong 2003, p. 312.
75. ^ Jackson 1986, p. 190.
76. ^ Potter 2001, p. 186.
77. ^ Jump up to:a b Marsden 2002, p. 28.
78. ^ Bradley 2010, p. 47.
79. ^ Marsden 2002, p. 30.
80. ^ Tatspaugh 2003, p. 528.
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87. ^ Wells 1997, p. 62.
88. ^ Jump up to:a
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90. ^ Wells 1997, p. 73.
91. ^ Hunter 1972, p. 51.
92. ^ Foakes 1997, pp. 30–31.
93. ^ Schoch 2002, pp. 58–75.
94. ^ Potter 2001, p. 193.
95. ^ Jackson 1986, p. 206.
96. ^ Schoch 2002,
97. ^ O’Connor 2002, p. 78.
98. ^ Wells 1997, p. 224.
99. ^ Foakes 1997, p. 89.
100. ^ Wells 1997, p. 229.
101. ^ Foakes 1997, p. 24.
102. ^ Foakes 1997, pp. 36–37.
103. ^ Foakes 1997, p. 52.
104. ^ Warren 1986, p. 266.
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106. ^ Jump up to:a b Lewisohn 1988, p. 128.
107. ^ Dawson 2002, p. 178.
108. ^ Lan 2005, p. 532.
109. ^ Gillies et al. 2002, p. 265.
110. ^ Jump up to:a b Holland 2001, p. 211.
111. ^ Foakes 1997,
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114. ^ Jump up to:a b Nestruck 2012.
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120. ^ Billington 2016.
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135. ^ Rosenthal
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140. ^ King Lear, 3.4.32.
141. ^ Guntner 2007, pp. 134–135.
142. ^ McKernan & Terris 1994, pp. 85–87.
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144. ^ Jump up to:a b Rosenthal 2007, p. 84.
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147. ^ Jackson 2001, p. 225.
148. ^ Griggs 2009, p. 122.
149. ^ McKernan & Terris 1994, p. 85.
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Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nikmay/9511172241/’]