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ConnieAnnKirk
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KING LEAR: The Whole Play (spoilers, ok)

Here we can talk about the entire play, KING LEAR, without being concerned about spoilers for those who may wish to read and discuss, Act by Act.

~ConnieAnnKirk




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friery
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Re: KING LEAR: The Whole Play (spoilers, ok)

The opening to King Lear is a little like a Quentin Tarantino movie.  Shakespeare starts fast, and he starts big. 

 

Lear asks for pledges of love from his daughters.  Numbers 1 and 2 fall all over themselves declaring their affection.  Cordelia demurs.  Lear divides his kingdom.  Lear un-dowrys Cordelia.  Kent objects. Burgundy finds Cordelia not so attractive sans her dowry.  France is pretty much OK with it.  Lear banishes Cordelia.  Lear banishes Kent.  Regan and Goneril look forward to monthly visits from Dad.  But, maybe not.

 

End of Act 1, scene 1.

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Re: KING LEAR: The Whole Play (Great Lines)

This has to be one of the great lines in all Shakespeare:

 

"Lest it see more, prevent it. Out, vile jelly!"

 

Act 3, sc. 7, l. 86.  (And, if you've read that far, you certainly know what it means.)

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subnet0
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Re: KING LEAR: The Whole Play (spoilers, ok)

Just saw Ran (which was initially only subconsciously based on Lear), and Kurosawa's choice to give the king sons instead of daughters made the emotions develop in a unique way. 

 

Obviously, Kurosawa was constrained by ancient Japan's misogynistic laws of succession.  But ancient Briton was only slightly more liberal;  why did Shakespeare choose daughters (other than allegiance to source material, which was....)?  What do you think are the benefits of each gender in these roles?

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Peppermill
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Re: KING LEAR: The Whole Play (spoilers, ok)

 


subnet0 wrote:

Just saw Ran (which was initially only subconsciously based on Lear), and Kurosawa's choice to give the king sons instead of daughters made the emotions develop in a unique way. 

 

Obviously, Kurosawa was constrained by ancient Japan's misogynistic laws of succession.  But ancient Briton was only slightly more liberal;  why did Shakespeare choose daughters (other than allegiance to source material, which was....)?  What do you think are the benefits of each gender in these roles?


 

First, welcome to B&N boards!  Second, great post.  Third, hope you will respond to your own questions.  I certainly can't, at least not without significant research.

 

 

Pepper

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: KING LEAR: The Whole Play (spoilers, ok)


subnet0 wrote:

Just saw Ran (which was initially only subconsciously based on Lear), and Kurosawa's choice to give the king sons instead of daughters made the emotions develop in a unique way. 

 

Obviously, Kurosawa was constrained by ancient Japan's misogynistic laws of succession.  But ancient Briton was only slightly more liberal;  why did Shakespeare choose daughters (other than allegiance to source material, which was....)?  What do you think are the benefits of each gender in these roles?


 

Welcome to the Shakespeare Book Club, subnet0!  Unfortunately, I don't have a good, scholarly response to your gender question about Lear's offspring (I hope we do find out more as we go along), but what first sprung to mind when you raised it was the "special" father-daughter relationship that many dads and daughters have.  The play seems to deal with that a lot--and then explores the notion of "favored daughter," etc.

 

I'll think more about this.......anyone else have a view?

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: KING LEAR: The Whole Play (spoilers, ok)

Here's a question.  The main character in LEAR is getting on in years. 

 

Do you think KING LEAR cannot be appreciated by the young? 

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: KING LEAR: The Whole Play (spoilers, ok)


ConnieK wrote:

Here's a question.  The main character in LEAR is getting on in years. 

 

Do you think KING LEAR cannot be appreciated by the young? 


 

ConnieK--here's a twist to your question.  Lear is very old (80-something, as I recollect).  And yet, when he curses Goneril with barrenness, or a deformed child at best, he's talking to a woman in her child-bearing years.  So, she's likely in her 30s at the oldest.  How do we explain that enormous discrepancy?  And, does that fact make it even more difficult for youngsters to understand the character of Lear?

 

BTW, to answer your question, I believe that youngsters would understand the character of Lear--this play is, when all is said and done, about the relationship between father and child.

 

BTW again, where the heck is Mrs. Lear?

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Re: KING LEAR: The Whole Play (spoilers, ok)

Does anyone have any thoughts about Kent's final line in the play: "I have a journey, sir, shortly to go; my master calls me, I must not say no."  He says this after Albany basically offers him the kingdom--clearly he is refusing, but to do what?  Is the journey a euphemism for death?  Is he suggesting that he is going to commit suicide?  Maybe "my master calls me" means now Lear is dead, he must die too.  If so (and to me this seems like the most likely reading) why in the nine or so performances of Lear I have seen, does Albany never react to this speech?  "How'd you like to be king, Kent?"  "No, thanks, I'd rather kill myself"  "Oh, alright then."  Shouldn't Albany and Edgar express some kind of shock or horror?

 

Speaking of Edgar's next speech, I am struck by the words "Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say."  Is this an answer to Cordelia's question in the first scene "What shall Cordelia speak?  Love and be silent."  Cordelia chose to speak what she felt, not what she ought to say.  Edgar seems to be validating this.

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Re: KING LEAR: The Whole Play (spoilers, ok)


friery wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

Here's a question.  The main character in LEAR is getting on in years. 

 

Do you think KING LEAR cannot be appreciated by the young? 


 

ConnieK--here's a twist to your question.  Lear is very old (80-something, as I recollect).  And yet, when he curses Goneril with barrenness, or a deformed child at best, he's talking to a woman in her child-bearing years.  So, she's likely in her 30s at the oldest.  How do we explain that enormous discrepancy?  And, does that fact make it even more difficult for youngsters to understand the character of Lear?

 

BTW, to answer your question, I believe that youngsters would understand the character of Lear--this play is, when all is said and done, about the relationship between father and child.

 

BTW again, where the heck is Mrs. Lear?


 

friery--Where do we see that he's in his 80s?  Is there a line that leads us there? 

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: KING LEAR: His Age?


ConnieK wrote:

friery wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

Here's a question.  The main character in LEAR is getting on in years. 

 

Do you think KING LEAR cannot be appreciated by the young? 


 

ConnieK--here's a twist to your question.  Lear is very old (80-something, as I recollect).  And yet, when he curses Goneril with barrenness, or a deformed child at best, he's talking to a woman in her child-bearing years.  So, she's likely in her 30s at the oldest.  How do we explain that enormous discrepancy?  And, does that fact make it even more difficult for youngsters to understand the character of Lear?

 

BTW, to answer your question, I believe that youngsters would understand the character of Lear--this play is, when all is said and done, about the relationship between father and child.

 

BTW again, where the heck is Mrs. Lear?


 

friery--Where do we see that he's in his 80s?  Is there a line that leads us there? 


 

Lear says to Cordelia, in Act 4, Sc 7, ll. 69-72:

 

Pray, do not mock me:
I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less;
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind....

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Re: KING LEAR: Kent's last Words


Bolognaking wrote:

Does anyone have any thoughts about Kent's final line in the play: "I have a journey, sir, shortly to go; my master calls me, I must not say no."  He says this after Albany basically offers him the kingdom--clearly he is refusing, but to do what?  Is the journey a euphemism for death?  Is he suggesting that he is going to commit suicide?  Maybe "my master calls me" means now Lear is dead, he must die too.  If so (and to me this seems like the most likely reading) why in the nine or so performances of Lear I have seen, does Albany never react to this speech?  "How'd you like to be king, Kent?"  "No, thanks, I'd rather kill myself"  "Oh, alright then."  Shouldn't Albany and Edgar express some kind of shock or horror?

 

Speaking of Edgar's next speech, I am struck by the words "Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say."  Is this an answer to Cordelia's question in the first scene "What shall Cordelia speak?  Love and be silent."  Cordelia chose to speak what she felt, not what she ought to say.  Edgar seems to be validating this.


 

That's a really intriguing question--I had basically read past Kent's words up until now.

 

The statement is certainly ambiguous.  Here are a couple of other possible interpretations.  Very shortly after he says these words, there's a death march.  "My master calls me" could simply mean that he has to follow the bodies out to their burial.  Alternately, Kent could be saying that he knows his own long life is coming to an end--naturally, not through suicide--and that he'll soon be following Lear into death.

 

Apart from these intriguing words, notice that the dialog of the three characters at the end of the play consists of two rhyming couplets and one final quatrain.  I thought that gave the conclusion of the play an almost dreamlike feeling.

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Re: KING LEAR: His Age?


friery wrote:

Lear says to Cordelia, in Act 4, Sc 7, ll. 69-72:

 

Pray, do not mock me:
I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less;
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind....


Oh, yes. Excellent.  Thanks friery!  I knew this once!  :smileywink:

~ConnieAnnKirk




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friery
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Re: KING LEAR: His Age?


ConnieK wrote:

friery wrote:

Lear says to Cordelia, in Act 4, Sc 7, ll. 69-72:

 

Pray, do not mock me:
I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less;
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind....


Oh, yes. Excellent.  Thanks friery!  I knew this once!  :smileywink:


 

OK, then back to my original questions:

 

How do you explain the 50-some year difference in age between Lear and his daughters?

 

And, what the heck happened to Mrs. Lear?

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Re: KING LEAR: His Age?


friery wrote:

 

OK, then back to my original questions:

 

How do you explain the 50-some year difference in age between Lear and his daughters?

 

And, what the heck happened to Mrs. Lear?


Well, men in their 50s become fathers every day, yes? 

 

And Mrs. Lear--"Queen Lear"?  Well that question is more interesting, to my mind.  I always assumed she had died, but we're never told?

 

Perhaps an even more penetrating question to think about might be how does the absence (for whatever reason) of a mother figure in KING LEAR affect the relationship between the king and his daughters?  Does the fact he doesn't have a wife (we assume) make his attention on his daughters all the more acute?  Is Cordelia filling in for a wife in some way in Lear's mind?

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: KING LEAR: His Age?


ConnieK wrote:

friery wrote:

 

OK, then back to my original questions:

 

How do you explain the 50-some year difference in age between Lear and his daughters?

 

And, what the heck happened to Mrs. Lear?


Well, men in their 50s become fathers every day, yes? 

 

And Mrs. Lear--"Queen Lear"?  Well that question is more interesting, to my mind.  I always assumed she had died, but we're never told?

 

Perhaps an even more penetrating question to think about might be how does the absence (for whatever reason) of a mother figure in KING LEAR affect the relationship between the king and his daughters?  Does the fact he doesn't have a wife (we assume) make his attention on his daughters all the more acute?  Is Cordelia filling in for a wife in some way in Lear's mind?


 

That's an excellent question. 

 

Here are two more bits of data about the Cordelia/Lear relationship. She's his favorite daughter of three.  (Looking back, that shouldn't surprise us. But Lear is such a terrible judge of character--if only with regard to Regan and Goneril--that we shouldn't take that for granted.)  And, at least at the beginning of the play, Cordelia is the only unmarried daughter.  Now, has the fact that Cordelia is about to be chosen for marriage made Lear a little grumpy, at least subconsciously?  If she is a wife-surrogate, he's about to lose that.

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Re: KING LEAR: His Age?


friery wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

friery wrote:

 

OK, then back to my original questions:

 

How do you explain the 50-some year difference in age between Lear and his daughters?

 

And, what the heck happened to Mrs. Lear?


Well, men in their 50s become fathers every day, yes? 

 

And Mrs. Lear--"Queen Lear"?  Well that question is more interesting, to my mind.  I always assumed she had died, but we're never told?

 

Perhaps an even more penetrating question to think about might be how does the absence (for whatever reason) of a mother figure in KING LEAR affect the relationship between the king and his daughters?  Does the fact he doesn't have a wife (we assume) make his attention on his daughters all the more acute?  Is Cordelia filling in for a wife in some way in Lear's mind?


 

That's an excellent question. 

 

Here are two more bits of data about the Cordelia/Lear relationship. She's his favorite daughter of three.  (Looking back, that shouldn't surprise us. But Lear is such a terrible judge of character--if only with regard to Regan and Goneril--that we shouldn't take that for granted.)  And, at least at the beginning of the play, Cordelia is the only unmarried daughter.  Now, has the fact that Cordelia is about to be chosen for marriage made Lear a little grumpy, at least subconsciously?  If she is a wife-surrogate, he's about to lose that.


 

Perhaps it also enables Regan and Goneril to develop their almost proprietary attitude to Lear.  They are constantly scolding and admonishing him as if he were a child.  They are childless married women and he is their child-surrogate.  They would not feel that it was their responsibility to take care of him if he were married; that would clearly be treading on the wife's toes.

"We're actors - we're the opposite of people" - Tom Stoppard
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