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.