This post will include discussion of the tragedy King Lear by William Shakespere and of plotpoints in it.
When you ask most people about their first Shakespeare work, they will likely tell you about the time in their high school english when they had to read Romeo and Juliet. For me my first complete encounter with Shakespeare happened when i read King Lear. As i said in my Shakespeare Marathon post, i started getting into Shakespeare again because of If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. To anyone who’s read that novel it would make sense why i then chose King Lear as my first tragedy.
King Lear is in many ways a tragedy about power, and the power structures that form within families, as well as within royalty. The tragedy itself starts with Lear giving away parts of his kingdom to his daughters, and the tragedy continues with two of the daughters doing everything in their powers to remain the ones in power.
On the other hand you have Cordelia saying that she loves her father more than word can describe, this result in her not getting any power, because her father believes her to not love him.
And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love’s
More richer than my tongue.
This shows the contrast between the actual love Cordelia feels for Lear, and the pretend love Goneril and Regan feel for him only to gain his power.
Another theme in the tragedy is grief. The grief Lear feels when Cordelia dies is enough to lead to his death. He feels so sunken in his grief that it literally kills him.
I might have saved her; now she’s gone for ever!
Cordelia, Cordelia! stay a little. Ha!
The death of Cordelia and Lear marks it a true tragedy, up until that point there is a slight inkling in the reader’s heart that the story might end happily, this happens even though the story is labelled a tragedy. One’s mind asks if enough tragedy hasn’t already happened, and you hope; you hope that all the tragedy meant to happen has already happened and that the characters will survive and be happy.
Edmund is a character who is often described as only being a villain, but if you actually look into who he is, and what his character symbolises, you will come to realise that his type of villain was the forbearer to the bad boy character trope often seen in young adult literature. This you can see in the way he seduces Goneril and Regan to do his bidding for him, which is also often seen with these bad boys of young adult literature.
“I am rough and lecherous. Tut, I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing.”
Edmund is also a moody character, he seems like he’s better than everyone else, and he acts mysterious. These are all tropes commonly seen with these bad boys. They often portray the kind of boy who is hard to get to know, they seem arrogant, and they will only act soft for the main girl in the YA book. In conclusion the only thing Edmund needed to become an actual young adult bad boy is a YA mary sue to make him soft.
In no way do I regret choosing King Lear as my first Shakespeare, the story has taken up a substantial amount of space in my heart, that I believe nothing will ever fill. The hope now is just that the remaining of Shakespeare i want to read will occupy other areas of my heart, and that it will have no reason to compete with King Lear.