Review: King Lear

Posted 10 September, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

King Lear
By: William Shakespeare
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

An ageing king makes a capricious decision to divide his realm among his three daughters according to the love they express for him. When the youngest daughter refuses to take part in this charade, she is banished, leaving the king dependent on her manipulative and untrustworthy sisters. In the scheming and recriminations that follow, not only does the king’s own sanity crumble, but the stability of the realm itself is also threatened.

King Lear is another one of those infamous Shakespearean plays that I have heard so much about, know pretty much what happens, but never studied it in school (I think I mentioned somewhere that at my high school, they opted to teach two comedies and two tragedies over the course of four years?). So I’m happy that I’m getting around to reading this play for myself 🙂

This book is part of the William Shakespeare Reading Challenge 2014 that I am participating in.

The first scene of this play pretty much lays out how great and how deep the tragedy will run. I was already in my “Nooooooo” state by the end of the first scene, feeling bad for Cordelia and groaning that Lear resorted to asking his three daughters to express their love for him in determining how to divide his realm–that’s not how filial love is suppose to work, Lear! I was surprised at how much time Cordelia spent off-stage; we only see her at the beginning of the play and towards the end. I suppose it is some relief that the King of France married her anyway despite of her disinheritance, but still…

And then all hell breaks loose as the two other daughters, Goneril and Regan, treat Lear poorly after they receive their inheritance and the power that goes along with it, and character start to line up their troops and attack each other. There’s quite a bit of politicking going on, especially as Lear goes into decline, which is unfortunate because it’s clear that these people have all taken advantage on Lear’s failing health and personal power. Goneril and Regan irritated me because it was clear that they were faking their love for their father, and go figure they would also turn against each other after a while.

I’m not sure what else to really say about the story. Nothing in particular really sticks out in terms of any particular phrases or moments in the story, but the themes that this play conveys nonetheless were fascinating. I’m glad I finally got around to reading this play.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository

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