King Lear Critics and Context

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  • Created by: bethg
  • Created on: 11-05-16 14:23

King Lear AO’s

AO4 Facts - Context

  • Stories of 'King Lear' existed for over four hundred years before Shakespeare's time

  • In all of the previous versions of 'King Lear', Cordelia commits suicide, but Shakespeare replaces her suicide with execution (more injustice, a palpable sense of needlessness)

  • Elizabethan England an extremely patriarchal society, and respect was demanded not only to the wealthy and powerful, but parents and elders.

  • The Jacobean age was a time of social and religious change, wherefore assumptions about gender and class were being questioned.

  • Elizabethan women had to be subservient and were expected to obey men, disobedience was seen as a crime against their religion.

  • King Lear was written during a time of uncertainty. London had been decimated by the Plague which shut the theatres and Guy Fawkes struck in 1605.

  • In 1603 Crowns of England and Scotland shared the kingship of James I but not united, a milestone nonetheless.

  • James I attempted to unite England and Scotland properly with an Act of Union 1606, 2 months before King Lear was performed at Court, but he was unsuccessful as parliament repeatedly thwarted his plans.

AO3 Critical Quotes

  • "A play in which the wicked prosper and the virtuous miscarry" - Johnson

  • “Cordelia is an opposition to Lear's authority. She uses Silence, the only possible way of subversion for women of the middle ages” - Rubio

  • "King Lear is a play about the disintegration of




Really helpful to incorporate in king lear essays!

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