Stationers' Register Established by royal charter in 1557 Trade guild Regulated various trades associated with the publishing industry Master of Revels Position in a royal household 1624 -- position taken over by Lord Chamberlain Reviewed manuscripts prior to performance Censored and licensed performances King Lear registered November 26, 1607 "as performed previously" Sources for Plot Samuel Parsnet -- "A Declaration of the Grievous Popish Imposters" Edgar's ravings e.g. names of the devils Geofrey of Monmouth 12th c. Lear does not step down; is reposed by rebellion 1590s -- King Lear (play) King insists that he has the right to marry his daughters off to whomever he pleases, but the youngest resists A new era for Shakespearean Plays Queen Elizabeth died 1603 Had refused to name an heir while she was monarch because she did not want to be a lame duck queen Supposedly named James to be her heir on her deathbed; no documentation, only the word of her advisors Succeeded by the Stewart Dynasty First cousin twice removed, King James VI of Scotland -->King James I of England Son of Mary Stewart, whom Elizabeth had executed ~20 years earlier for having conspired to seize the throne of England Represented union of the crown, not union of two nations Union between England and Scotland in 1707 Until then, the two countries remained separate: laws, churches Considered a foreign invasion by Londoners The Text Q1 Q2 -- substantially different from Q1 Folio Omits 288 lines or part lines found in the quartos Adds 133 lines found in neither quarto Two Lear Theory Differences are so great, could be read as separate plays Performance History Early Lear was unbearable; too painful 1642-60 -- Puritans take over the parliament and close the theaters 1960 -- Period of Restoration Theater begins Women allowed on stage Revived canonical plays intact As opposed to Shakespeare's time, when old plays were frequently stolen from, but not restaged 1681 -- Shakespeare is long dead Nahum Tate premiers new version of Shakespeare Removed the Fool Dramatically changed the ending to a happy one Saved Lear and Cordelia Cordelia married Edgar Lear reunited with faithful follower Kent Became the exclusive performance version of King Lear on the stage for 150 years 1823 -- Edmond Kean Restored the tragic ending Plot Fairy tale structure There once was a king with three daughters, and two of them were bad, and one of them were good The King asks his daughter how much she loves him "I love you more than salt" He adds savor to her life He is trivial Act 1 -- Precipitous Decline Beginning -- King has all power By the end of the first Act, he already begins to discover his error Fears he will go mad Shakespeare divests all previous explanations for the King Lear myth and makes it seem like Lear acts only on a whim Explanations through direction Decline toward senility, dementia; loss of power; extreme and universal fate of old age Division of the kingdoms as a lark, a joke; a familiar show of unreasonable behavior; everyone gets stuck, cornered in the midst of his whim when Cordelia refuses to make light and play along; accident was the key motivator of decline There is no such thing as retirement for a king; they only die, and only then does power transfer When a King becomes unfit for rule, there is no provision to transfer power King tries to divest himself of active responsibility while retaining the title and trappings of power Becomes that dowager that uses someone else's money; still alive when he ought to be dead; superfluous 1.2.46 Begins with a soliloquy like Richard III's Does bastard birth make me evil, or am I evil despite the stars? Edmund's letter forged to be Edgar's "Bitter to the best of our times; keeps our fortunes from us 'til our oldness cannot relish them" "Have his revenue forever" Leftover age -- do away with father to enjoy the father's wealth and title while they are young enough to find pleasure in it This fear is so prevalent in the age that, despite no previous evidence, Gloucester can easily believe it; he already possesses that fear "Nothing" -- the present letter; represents presence of something untoward Gloucester calls Edgar "unnatural villain;" worried about portents that forebode some larger calamity The fully-formed 'Double Plot' e.g. Polonius' Laertes and Ophelia to Claudius' Hamlet King and his daughters to Gloucester and his sons Early plants the stress fracture/flaw in the family: Edmund's "breeding"; "do you smell a fault?" Gloucester boasts about it: "Is this not your son, my Lord?" "His breeding hath been at my charge" "I got him out of wedlock" "There was a lot of sport in his getting" Assignment for Wednesday Write and turn in to GSI List 5 instances of "nothing" in King Lear; a variety of wordplay and concept/action "Nothing will come of nothing" -- Lear x2 0 -- you are nothing, but I am a fool Void between two crowns Cordelia's silence (1.1.87) Lear's self-knowledge: he hath ever but slenderly known himself Nothing above (fate, Gods, stars) makes Edmund evil The empty hearth with no bushes for cover from the thunderstorm; plainness Eclipses: Gloucester's ill portents Cordelia Not willing to say things she does not mean Will not flatter her father's vanity Refuses to explain "Nothing will come of nothing" You will not get your inheritance if you do not speak Lear disinherits her, disowns her, banishes her, threatens violence to Kent for supporting her (his most loyal follower) "Kill they physician, and the fee bestow upon the foul disease" Physicians: Cordelia and Kent To shame Cordelia, offers her as "nothing" to Burgundy No dowry; Burgundy wimps out Lear won't even "insult" the King of France with the offer, but France takes her for her inherent value The two daughters who win see volatile anger that could as easily turn on them
Want to see the other 3 page(s) in King Lear?JOIN TODAY FOR FREE!