King Lear

Hierarchical collection of pages (posts) for King Lear, including material for McKellen film, the play itself, background on the play, creative engagement with the play, educational material for teaching the play, and ways to have fun with the play.

Scene 3

Leir meditates alone on his plan to marry off his daughters, unaware that they know his plans.  He admits some indefinite apprehension, but his daughters arrive “to rid me of this doubt.”   Alluding to the near prospects of his death, he asks which daughter loves him best, put in terms of yielding to his wishes.  […]

Scene 2

Gonorill and Ragan complain about the impertinence of Cordella – so sober, courteous, demure, modest, precise, so talked about as exceeding the two.  They fear most that she would marry best.  But Skalliger comes in to inform them of Leir’s intentions to marry Ragan to Cambria and Gonorill to Cornwall, and his hope for Cordella […]

Scene 1

Leir discusses with noble advisors his intent to divide his kingdom among his daughters, lamenting the loss of his wife, that he really cannot parent them, and his failure to bear a son before his loins were withered.  He sees Gonorill and Ragan capitalizing on their new power to obtain husbands already in sight, but […]

Scene Directory and Links

The following scene directory may be used to link to any scene in the play. Scene 1. Leir decides to divide his kingdom, apply a test of love. Scene 2. Gonorill and Ragan, advised of the King’s play, plot against Cordella. Scene 3. They meet, the elder daughters pass the test, Cordella does not, is […]

Dramatis Personae

DRAMATIS PERSONAE Leir, King of Britain. Gonorill, daughter of King Leir, later wife of the King of Cornwall. Ragan, daughter of King Leir, later wife of the King of Cambria. Cordella, daughter of King Leir, later wife of the King of Gallia. Cornwall, King of Cambria, King of Skalliger, a nobleman, follower of King Leir. […]

Short Synopsis

Lamenting the loss of his wife and lack of male issue, Leir decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughters so they might attract the most powerful husbands. He proposes a love test to secure his own beliefs.  The elder two daughters, smarting over Cordella’s obvious but demure superiority, learn of the king’s intentions […]

Background and Introduction

BACKGROUND In Shakespeare’s day there was neither television nor radio, neither dictionaries nor history books as we know them, not even newspapers or magazines.  Formal schooling took place in Latin and covered classical texts from ancient Greece and Rome.  University schooling generally prepared students for a career in the church or the court.  Less than […]

Sidney’s Arcadia

Sir Philip Sidney Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586) was a courtier, soldier, and poet, who, with the likes of Sir Walter Raleigh and Thomas Wyatt, were the English examples of the Renaissance man.  Also like Raleigh and Wyatt, he ran afoul of the reigning monarch, and was dispatched to the Netherlands to fight rather than sail […]

Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599) can be rightfully considered England’s finest poet of the sixteenth century. (Shakespeare and Donne, his rivals for such a credit, lived and wrote into the seventeenth century and in a sense belong more properly to the later age, although Shakespeare wrote most if not all of his standalone poetry […]

Holinshed Chronicles

Raphael Holinshed (died c. 1580) is one of the mysterious souls from the English Renaissance who left a lasting mark but almost no other trace of himself.  He published in 1577 the Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, a massive compilation of history and myth that served among other purposes to furnish Shakespeare with whatever […]