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King Lear

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message 1: by Ginnielee (new)

Ginnielee (vampirekisses) | 7 comments This story I believe would have to be one of Shakespears greatest work. The plot is imaginative, the characters believeable, and the setting placed in the common time of his people. His symbolism I believe is at his best in the this play. Everything having a secret meaning.


message 2: by Garrett Cook (new)

Garrett Cook | 7 comments I think, besides Measure for Measure, it is his best. Edmund is one of the most chilling and interesting Shakespearean villains.


message 3: by Amalie (new)

Amalie Ginnielee wrote: "This story I believe would have to be one of Shakespears greatest work. The plot is imaginative, the characters believeable, and the setting placed in the common time of his people. His symbolism I..."

I agree. In the dramatic sense itself, King Lear owns the first place. I can only imagine how Shakespeare decided on the scene of the removal of Gloucester eyes. It's gruesome.

The connection between the plot and the sub plot is strong than any other. Even utterances of Lear and Gloucester are linked. Notice how the word "Nothing" leads to the tragedy of both Lear and Gloucester.


message 4: by Amalie (new)

Amalie Garrett wrote: "I think, besides Measure for Measure, it is his best. Edmund is one of the most chilling and interesting Shakespearean villains. "

You are right. Any ideas why Edmund is such a terrifying villainous character? I simply can't understand the motive behind his actions other than him being an opportunist and an improviser.


message 5: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 18 comments Lear is easily my favorite play and I think it is Shakespeare's best, bar none. The primary and secondary plots are so seamlessly interwoven, almost nothing feels extraneous. And I can't even begin to talk about how much I love the characters. And it is completely heartbreaking. The last scene makes me cry every time, without fail.


message 6: by Amalie (last edited Sep 20, 2010 05:38AM) (new)

Amalie Hi Rebecca! Finally, someone to talk about Lear. I agree with you, the end is far more tragical than others and too devastating to the point I often wondered why Shakespeare decided on so many innocent deaths.

Speaking of which did you find out what happened to the Fool? I thought at first the line "my poor fool is hanged..." in the act 5 is referred to him but them I realized it's about Cordelia. Any thoughts?


message 7: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments Amalie, the problem of the disappearing fool, and what seems to be a confusion of Lear's, disappears if you take Cordelia, and the Fool, as being in some sense the same person. I am racking my brains trying to recall the author of the brilliant essay where I first saw this idea expressed, but am blanking. (I thought it was William Empson, but I think that cannot be right.)

Cordelia is banished by Lear, unable or unwilling to give him the lesson in words which he so desperately needs. On her departure the Fool appears, and supplies those words, in his cryptic style. Lear punishes Cordelia and threatens puishment on the Fool ("Take heed, sirrah, the whip!") The Fool cares for Lear in Cordelia's absence. They are acted by the same person: the audience will recognise this, and make a connection of characters. When Cordelia comes back she cares for Lear, and the Fool has to be offstage. The Fool's disappearance becomes something other than clumsy once the audience grasps that there is not a mere doubling of roles here, but that the two characters converge into one as Lear's teacher and helper. Lear's final cry "my poor Fool is hanged" makes the fusion complete. Of course, this is not usually done in modern performances, and it works perfectly well with separate actors, but the theory is that Shakespeare's intention was to have a single boy actor play both roles.


message 8: by Amalie (new)

Amalie Martin wrote: "Amalie, the problem of the disappearing fool, and what seems to be a confusion of Lear's, disappears if you take Cordelia, and the Fool, as being in some sense the same person. I am racking my brai..."

Thanks for the infor Martin. Yes it does make sense if you look at it like that. I thought may be the fool disappeared in Act 3 to keep up with the tragic style of the play and the fool if continued to remain would be a contradictory character.

And it's an interesting theory that both characters were intended to play by the same actor.


message 9: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments Thanks, Amalie and Nanette.

Nanette, I feel we are honoured to have one of goodreads' resident authors contributing to our group!


message 10: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments What a tough question! Let me try to answer sensibly. My least favourite play is Henry VIII, insofar as Shakespeare must take full responsibility for it. I am no doubt influenced by having seen it at the Globe, where the choice was between a granite-hard seat, or standing up in the rain. I tried both, with equal discomfort. I like the late comedies, so why don't I pick "All's Well" for favourite? But there are still plays I have not read (King John, Pericles) and every reading brings a change of understanding.

The nice thing about the S reading group is that you find yourself reading and enjoying plays you would probably never have got around to opening through choice -- the three parts of Henry VI for example.


message 11: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 85 comments Amalie wrote: "Any ideas why Edmund is such a terrifying villainous character? I simply can't understand the motive behind his actions other than him being an opportunist and an improviser. "

Vastly overblown inferiority complex. He was a bastard, and therefore although the son of a noble, was socially nobody. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be brought up with a brother who you knew would inherit everything and you would inherit nothing, a brother who would be able to marry well and you would be lucky to be able to marry a serving wench, and on and on, this being rubbed into your nose day after day, year after year, if not rubbed actively, certainly made clear to you over and over. It really could only go one of two ways, adoration of the older brother, or hate. He chose hate.


message 12: by Stewart (new)

Stewart Buettner | 1 comments Does everyone know about the upcoming National Theater Live HD broadcasts of Lear (with Derek Jacobi in the title role)? These are presented on the big screen, often by local theater companies and sometimes at local cinemas. The performances of Lear are Sat Feb 26 & Sun Feb 27 at 2pm & 7pm both days. Cost is $20. (check around, times may vary). Jacobi is supposed to be fabulous in this.


message 13: by R.a. (new)

R.a. (brasidas1) | 4 comments I don't know if this comment adds to the conversation or not; but, here goes:

It seems to a consensus (at least is was not so long ago) that King Lear is probably Shakespeare's "greatest work." But, it is not his best play.

I find some truth in this after seeing some productions. Some of the "stagecraft" issues of the play become HUGE when staging.

The tragedy of it though is still great and powerful and stays with a spectator / reader especially as one ages.

Hamlet seems to be widely considered his best "play."

For myself, I'm a HUGE fan of: Measure for Measure, Coriolanus, and Cymbeline.

Jacobi as Lear! Oh, if I could only attend!


message 14: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments R.a. wrote: "I don't know if this comment adds to the conversation or not; but, here goes:

It seems to a consensus (at least is was not so long ago) that King Lear is probably Shakespeare's "greatest work." Bu..."


Hello, nice to see someone posting.

Two members of my family ill today, so I can't make a long post, but I agree with you to a large extent.
I think the scene in the storm in King Lear is too long, for instance.

I was rather disappointed in Jacobi as Hamlet in the BBC version, but that is a matter of taste. Hamlet is a play I did for 'A' level but never liked, because of his foul treatment of Ophelia, unfairness to Laertes etc.

Odd about 'Cymbeline', I haven't yet read it, have been meaning to. Is the main character complex? I like 'Measure for Measure' but my faovurite is - as per that long, long, discussion, 'All's Well'.

Jessica


message 15: by R.a. (new)

R.a. (brasidas1) | 4 comments Hi Jessica,

I'm sorry our tastes diverge w/ the filmed Hamlets: Jacobi's is still my favorite. It is too bad that the BBC didn't have the advantage of 'film' as Jacobi's student Branagh did–the other contender for best Hamlet on film.

Re: Cymbeline. The play's title is for Cymbeline, (King of Britain); but, the title role is a minor one. Many literary critic-type folks seem to despise this play. Yet, I found it to be GREAT. I think Shakespeare was 'pushing the envelope' regarding stagecraft; i.e., he knew HOW MUCH the stagecraft could do for him. So, the acts/scenes can seem 'disjointed.' Yet, when a skilled director takes the helm on this one, it's simply great.

Of course, this may be a play in which the theatrical conventions of play absolutely have to be in mind even if the producing / directing folks make "neat" choices in production.

It may fall into a category like Chekhov's work in that if produced ascant, it may come off quite disjointed, indeed.

Oh, by the way, 'Imogen' is the main character in the play. And, the Queen, w/ her 'potions,' is quite diabolical. Let's not forget her less than noble son, Cloton. Quite an end!

This reminds me—I really have to return to my happy habit of regular theatre attendance.

Happy viewing / listening.


message 16: by Lucinda (last edited Oct 05, 2011 01:51AM) (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments r.a, Oh dear, I seem to have hijacked a Lear discussion with discussion of Hamlet.

Well, if we all agreed on performances, how dull it would be! For me, though I could see that his interpretation was intriguing, Jacobi looked physically too 'well fed' for a Hamlet, for I always picture him wiry and wild eyed (I think I bring my working out enthusiasm into my interpretation of theatre, too!)
In the BBC version I saw recently, I was very impressed with the interpretation Laertes. Was that David Robb? O/H, who isn't interested in Shakespeare's plays, remarked as he walked through 'that guy's a good actor'. Despite his treachery with Claudius, I really felt for him...

Silly of me about 'Cymbeline'. I haven't read or seen that one, but I remember the story now,and was stupidly mixing it up with 'Corialanus', which I haven't read or seen either, that of course, being about the slightly differfent theme of a Roman hero...


message 17: by R.a. (new)

R.a. (brasidas1) | 4 comments Hi Jessica,

Good news: Ralph Fiennes will have a film production of Coriolanus out soon. The previews suggest that it's going to be pretty great.

I absolutely agree w/ you regarding the Laertes interpretation. It added so much.

Back to Lear: Had you seen the stark Peter Brooks production? Quite stark.

Thus far, my favorite performance (including live performances) has been Michael Horton's, again, the BBC production series. All performances there are great! And, the interpretation of the fool as somewhat "cruel" was pretty great. I had never seen that interpretation before.

Again, good viewing!


message 18: by Lucinda (last edited Oct 13, 2011 10:00AM) (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments Hey, I must see that film when it comes out. A good epic would really be something. Sadly, no, I haven't been to the threatre in a while, financial cutbacks,saving for university fees, at the moment the only theatrical productions I see are the dvd's of the BBC Shakespeare. Sad, I know...I was impressed with the acting in King Lear, but thought the black backdrops and costumes and hair dye a bit over the top.
Apropos Laertes, he really comes to life in that BBC production. You realise what a terrible injustice he has suffered.


message 19: by R.a. (new)

R.a. (brasidas1) | 4 comments Hi Jessica,

Sorry it's been so long.

As a PS to our Laertes conversation: I agree. I can't think of another production (stage or film) in which Laertes, as foil and as so destroyed by Hamlet's action, has been so pronounced.

It has, since my viewing of the production, been a lens / filter to succeeding productions.

Kudos.


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