King Lear Study Guide

King Lear Study Guide

Original title:
The Tragedie of King Lear
Published 2004 by Simon Schuster (first published 1603)
ISBN 074348276X (ISBN13: 9780743482769)

A magnificent tragedy “King Lear” by William Shakespeare laid grounds for many great theatre plays, movies, and stories. There have been numerous adaptations and interpretations for the play, but its original version remains the most popular among the readers.

The main character of the play is a British monarch of the same name. He is old and wants to hand over the reigns of the country to his three daughters. But the ruler gets caught in the flatteries and doesn't make the decision rationally.

Having divided the land among the two of his daughters and having lost his youngest daughter who moved to France without the father’s blessing, the king is slowly going mad. His younger daughter Cordelia will reappear later trying to save her father with a couple thousands of French army behind her, but only to be betrayed, imprisoned and executed.

The question of family relations, loyalty, and mutual understanding is crucial for the play. While there’s a betrayal of children to their father, there’s also a question of upbringing and being a role model. Imagine a situation in which the parents have already lost control over their mind and possessions, yet their children haven’t learned to be smart and responsible.

The children want to be free and powerful. Because their parents want to see them free and powerful. Shakespeare shows that what we teach our younger ones may as well turn against us. There’s a place only for one leader of the family or country and the fight for this place is inevitable.

The vanity could as well be a protagonist of the play. It is typical for the young family members as well as for the father, who wanted to remain King after handing over the crown. The rhetoric of the text invokes in the readers deep thoughts on making and following right decisions, being sure about one’s intentions and knowing exactly what you want from life.

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