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King Lear is universal - the tragedy is in a distantly remote and

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Introduction

King Lear is universal - the tragedy is in a distantly remote and deliberately undefined historical period and location. Has resulted in its survival. The emptiness of the stage at the Globe Theatre allowed Shakespeare to both set his plays in any location and to put them in no particular setting, allowing him to draw the attention of the audience to the essentials of the play. Kind Lear portrays universal themes and situations such as the intolerance of the young towards the old, good versus evil, the vulnerability of old age, and he hidden nature of supernatural beings. Interpretations/readings Modern criticism - A modern critic argues that history, rather than fate or the gods, is the cause of tragedy. The origins of tragedy lie in identificable social causes and are capable of being resisted. Image clusters in the play are seen by John F Danby to be expressing the conflict between two sides of nature, benign and divinely ordered and the other governed by self-interest. They argue that traditional interpretations put a heavy emphasis on character and other abstractions such as the themes, which are misleading. They focus on how social conditions are reflected in characters' relationships, language and behavior. It also concerns itself with how changing social assumptions at different periods of time have affected interpretations of the play. ...read more.

Middle

Production and performance The text has been cut, added to, rewritten and rearranged to present a version felt appropriate to the times. King Lear was not a popular play in the seventeenth century: the theme of fallen royalty was too close to the experience through which England has lived. Goucester's blinding was seen as too horrid for viewing and Samuel Johnson urged that it be kept offstage. The first recorded performance of the play was for King James I in 1606. The play does not seem to have been popular. Nahum Tate published his own Revised Version, which was the only version staged until well into the nineteenth century. In his version, he ensured that good triumphed over evil: Lear and Gloucester live, cordelia and Edgar fall in love, and the king of France and the fool disappear. In 1823 Edmund kean restored the tragic ending but the play continued to be heavily cut. Simpler stagings of the play took place in the twentieth century - productions no longer attempted to create an impression of realism. Shakespeare's own version, heavily cut, was not seen again until 1845 and for fifty years afterwards stage productions removed huge chunks of Shakespeare's version. In Elizabethan times, plays were performed in daylight and so the audience was as visible as the actors. ...read more.

Conclusion

The firce, intolerant and demanding kind that was in the beginning of the play has become humble due to his love for Cordelia and his sufferings. Shakespeare's profound talent in the use and manipulation of language helps him in creating strong imagery throughout the play. Reference to savage creatures associating Goeril and Regan are reccuring within King Lear. Goneril is 'sharp-toothed with a 'wolfish visage'. Lear curses her as a 'detested kite' and tells regan she 'looked black...most serpent like'. Gloucester states they possess 'boarish fangs' while Albany says that they are 'Tigers not daughters'. Shakespeare also uses imagery to convey disease and pain. An example is when lear curses his daughters wishing on them 'all the plagues that in the pendulous air hang'. To him Goneril is 'a disease that's in my flesh', 'a boil, / A plague-sore'. The fool constantly uses imagery as a clever method of commenting on what is taking place, such as when he says to Lear 'the hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long/That its had it head bit off by it young'. This image of Lear as a hedge-sparrow emphasises his vulnerability. There is imagery concerning the Gods: Lear worries that the heavens stir 'these daughters' hearst/against their father'. Other imagery includes Lear's images of ell when he rages against female sexuality and when he states that 'burning shame' keeps him from Cordelia. ...read more.

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