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King Lear

William Shakespeare

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions & Essay Topics

full title  ·  The Tragedy of King Lear

author  · William Shakespeare

type of work  · Play

genre  · Tragedy

language  · English

time and place written  · England, 1604–1605

date of first publication  · First Folio edition, 1623

publisher  · John Heminge and Henry Condell, two senior members of Shakespeare’s acting troupe

narrator  · Not applicable (drama)

climax  · Gloucester’s blinding in Act 3, scene 7

protagonist  · Lear, king of Britain

antagonists  · Lear’s daughters Goneril and Regan; Edmund, the bastard son of Gloucester

setting (time)  · Eighth century b.c.

setting (place)  · Various locations in England

foreshadowing  · Goneril and Regan’s plotting in Act 1 foreshadows their later cruel treatment of Lear.

tone  · Serious and tragic; the occasional bursts of comedy are uniformly dark

themes  · Justice, authority versus chaos, reconciliation, redemption

motifs  · Madness, betrayal, death

symbols  · Weather plays an important symbolic role in the play, notably in Act 3, when the tremendous thunderstorm over the heath symbolizes Lear’s rage and mounting insanity; the actual blindness of Gloucester symbolizes the moral blindness that plagues both Lear and Gloucester himself in their dealings with their children; the “wheel” of fortune is another symbol by means of which Edmund, at the end of the play, conceives of his fall from power back into insignificance.

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the Gloucester side story

by Merpandderp, April 07, 2013

to help with the side story, think of the movie Thor:

Gloucester: Odin-son
Edgar- Thor (the good brother; gets punished and illegitimate brother takes over for a while)
Edmund-Loki (evil, illegitimate son who is jealous of his brother)

MIND BLOWN. Stan Lee probably read Shakespeare

5 Comments

20 out of 35 people found this helpful

Help with the Gloucester side story

by Merpandderp, April 07, 2013

it is kind of confusing dealing with King Lear and his three daughters, and then having to deal with Gloucester. My suggestion, think of the movie Thor:

-Gloucester: Odin-son
-Edgar: Thor (the good brother who is supposed to succeed Odin-son/Gloucester when he dies; is deceived by Loki/Edmund and then gets punished)
-Edmund: Loki (the evil, illegitimate brother who is jealous of Thor/Edgar (except Loki was adopted); gets control of the throne for a while)

Hope this helps

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9 out of 13 people found this helpful

Fathers, Sons and Daughters and a Lot of Sorrow

by ReadingShakespeareby450th, December 04, 2013

There's “a time to keep and a time to cast away." King Lear just got his times mixed up, and it gave us a great play. Finished Lear on my way to reading and blogging about them all by April 2014.

In case you're interested in a few of my thoughts on the play, visit my blog (also there, I've linked to a good production of the play that's available on the PBS Great Performances website):

http://ow.ly/rsPRj

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2 out of 3 people found this helpful

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