Relating The Tragedy of King Lear to our lives today: Relevance, relationships and reality.

TOPIC: Assess Shakespeare's play, King Lear, on criteria of realness for relevance to us today and success as a drama.

Pre-writing brainstorm and planning:

The Real

The Surreal

The Fantastical

What happens; what is projected to happen; what normally happens; what conforms to physical laws; what we expect to happen in our own world today

Actions taken to their limits; tendencies taken to extremes; parodies of the real; any juxtaposition of incongruities and dream elements; the ugly and repugnant; the amazing

The unimagined; the clearly fictional; what happens beyond reason or logic; events without obvious causes; randomness

a warrior king is unhoused, unhorsed and unclothed on a heath

a king divides his kingdom; a king abdicates

two royal widowers share the consequences of their respective sins (wrath and lust)

a king is driven to death by grief and regret for his foolish and blind actions

a king exiles his most loyal courtier and dearest daughter

a king raves in a tempest on a heath and curses his eldest daughter to sterility

Edmund and Edgar duel to the death

bastard ("natural") son wins father's trust and the ascendency; Edmund becomes Earl of Gloucester

Edgar wins a duel

Poor Tom's a cold

Edgar and Lear console one another as hobos on a heath

Lear learns through grief and suffering

Kent put in stocks

Lear accepts Caius as associate

Kent survives it all

family feud; family break up; rejection and hurt; Goneril and Regan feud; Goneril poisons Regan

recrimination and civil war

death of conspirators; Gloucester blesses Edgar; Lear and Cordelia reconciled

Cordelia returns with French forces to find and protect her abused father

England is invaded

Cordelia returns with French forces to assert her rightful inheritance

© G. Smith May 2001

"After all, theatre-goers expected the plays to be surreal, and Shakespeare could afford to leave unanswered questions : Who takes over England, What become of Albany, Edgar, Kent, or any poor soul still left standing. How does France react to all this? However, readers expect a novel to be very realistic, especially when set in their own time frame"

False Reality In King Lear

Return to King Lear study site

19 May 2001.