“Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again”.

King Lear
King Lear |William Shakespeare |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review |Shakespearean Tragedy |Cordelia
‘King Lear’: William Shakespeare

‘King Lear’ is a tragic drama scripted ✍️ by William Shakespeare. ‘King Lear’ is set in the pre-christian times written in 1605. It was published between 📅 1608 and 1623 with its title ‘The tragedy of King Lear’ 📑. ‘King Lear’ narrates the story of the British King 👑 and his three daughters 👱🏻‍♀️ 👩🏻‍🦰👩🏻‍🦱 after the division of his kingdom 🌏 among them.

“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is

To have a thankless child.—Away, away!

King Lear

The Declaration of Love 💝

King Lear |William Shakespeare |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review |Shakespearean Tragedy |Cordelia
Daughters of King Lear: Goneril, Regan and Cordelia

Lear, the King 👑 of Britain decides to retire and hand over his power to his daughters named Goneril 👱🏻‍♀️, Regan 👩🏻‍🦰 and Cordelia 👩🏻‍🦱. The announces 📢 to declare their love 💗 for their father, upon which he will decide to share his Kingdom 🗺️. Goneril flatters her father declaring that he loves him the most 🤗. Regan too does the same way. King Lear gives them their shares 🗾.

Declaration of Cordelia

“Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave

My heart into my mouth. I love your majesty

According to my bond; no more nor less”.

Cordelia | King Lear
King Lear |William Shakespeare |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review |Shakespearean Tragedy
Cordelia Disinherited by King Lear

When both the daughters of King Lear flatters 😊their father with sugary words 🥰, Cordelia, the dearest daughter of his replies “Nothing, my Lord”. Lear is shocked 😲 hearing this. Cordelia frankly states that she loves him just as his father 🤨, nothing more or less. She then says that she will love her husband 😍 the most when she gets married 👰🏼. This furies Lear. This declaration leads to the disinheritance of Cordelia 😡. She was honest and revealed the truth, but she couldn’t flatter her father 😩.

Division of the Kingdom

“Peace, Kent.

Come not between the dragon and his wrath.

I loved her most and thought to set my rest

On her kind nursery”.

King Lear

Kent speaks for Cordelia but his anger 😠 has blinded him for the moment 🙈. Lear declares the division of his Kingdom among his two daughters, Goneril 👱🏻‍♀️ and Regan 👩🏻‍🦰 and their husbands – the Duke of Albany 🧔🏻: Goneril’s husband, and the Duke of Cornwall 🧔🏼: Regan’s husband. Kent openly opines that he has done injustice to her daughter 😕. This again angers Lear, banishing Kent from his Kingdom 🙃.

Who will Take Care of Cordelia?

King Lear now turns towards the suitors 🤵🏻 of Cordelia, the Duke of Burgundy and the Duke of France 🇫🇷. He reveals that Cordelia has been disinherited 😶 by him and this their marriage 💍 to Cordelia would bring them no luck 😑 nor wealth 💰. The Duke of Burgundy steps back 😐 but the Duke of France 🇫🇷 is impressed ☺️ by the honesty of Cordelia 🙂. He announces that he will marry her and is also surprised 🤨 why her father hates her for no reason 🤔.

The Retirement

Lear has decided to rest after the division 🗾 of his Kingdom among his two daughters 👱🏻‍♀️👩🏻‍🦰. He has decided to reside 🏯 with both of his daughters alternately and has employed a hundred knights 👮🏻‍♂️ into his service. But Regan and Goneril reveal that none of them loved their father 😏, but had boasted about their love for his Kingdom 😌. For them, Lear is just an old foolish man 😬 awaiting his death 👴.

Earl of Gloucester and Edmund, his Bastard Son

“In wisdom I should ask thy name,

But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,

And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes,

What safe and nicely I might well delay

By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn”.

King Lear

The Earl of Gloucester accepts Edmund, his illegitimate son. But Edmund has only evil 😈 plans. He has plotted 🤔 and implemented 👍🏻 certain plans to kick out his older half brother, Edgar 😔. A letter reaches Gloucester which reveals ✉️ that Edgar actually plans to usurp his father’s position 🙃. But the letter ✉️ was forged by Edmund 😱.

Lear at Goneril’s House

Banished Earl of Kent, disguised as Caius, returns to Lear as his honest and faithful ☺️ servant. Lear, who stays at Goneril’s house, realises that he has turned powerless 😣 as she cuts off his hundred knights 👮🏻‍♂️. Lear, who questions ❓ and quarrels with Oswald, the steward of Goneril is disrespected 😖 by Goneril and Oswald too. Angry Lear 😠 decides to move to Regan’s house. Lear’s fool mocks 😬 him for dividing his wealth 💴 among his greedy and disgraceful daughters.

Edgar is Disinherited 😨

Edmund learns from Curan that there will be a war between Cornwall and Albany. He is cunning and plans a move the same evening 🌃 when Cornwall and Regan is to visit them at Gloucester’s residence. He fakes being attacked by Edgar. Gloucester feels humiliated and angry 😡. Without enquiring about the event, he disinherits his legitimate son, Edgar.

Kent in Stocks

Kent, who goes to Regan and Cornwall with the message of Lear, is put in stocks 😮. A scene of quarrel 😬between Kent and Oswald happens there. Lear arrives at the scene, and sees his messenger mistreated😟. Regan disregards and disrespects her father just as Goneril. Goneril also arrives there and dismisses 😦all of his knights. The angry 😡 Lear leaves the place cursing 🤬 his daughters.

Lear and Edgar Wanders

“Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout

Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks.

You sulph’rous and thought-executing fires,

Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts,

Singe my white head”.

King Lear
King Lear |William Shakespeare |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review |Cordelia
King Lear Wandering in the heaths

Lear leaves the place and wanders in heaths. The King 👑 of Britain is left alone to wander, he is struck by storm 🌪️. But nothing affects him 🏜️. He feels nothing as he has nothing to feel after such humiliation 😵. But he is accompanied by Kent and Fool 🙂. In the midst of their wandering, they also meet Edgar, who is now disguised as the mad Tom o’ Bedlam 😑, to save his life from Edmund. Lear, in the verge of madness 🙄, curses 🤬 his daughters. Both of them are taken to a shelter 🏜️ by Kent.

Edmund Betrays Gloucester

The ambitious 💶 Edmund is not need of his father’s love ❤️ and care but his power 💥 and position. He has cunningly plucked 😡 out his brother out of the scene. Now, its time for Gloucester. He reveals 😲 to Cornwall, Regan and Goneril that his father is trying to crown 👑 Lear and is aware of the French invasion.

Goneril leaves with Edmund to warn Albany of the news 📰. Gloucester is arrested and his eyes 👀 are plucked out by Cornwall. A servant witnessing this bloody act 😖, stabs 🔪 Cornwall. Regan kills the servant 🗡️ and reveals that his son Edmund had forwarded this news 📰 to them. Shocked 😲, wounded 😥 and heartbroken 💔, Gloucester is also left to wander 😕 in the heaths.

Edmund Meets his Blind Father

“As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods;

They kill us for their sport”.

King Lear
The Blinded Gloucester in the play ‘King Lear’

Edmund meets his blind father 😑 who cannot recognise him. He is requested 🙏🏻 by Gloucester to lead him towards a cliff 🗻 to die. He does so, changes his voice 🔊 and convinces him that he has survived a great fall 🙂. He is in despair 😥 and shouts that the whole world is a lie. Lear too has gone completely mad 🙄.

Lustful Goneril and Regan

Goneril on her way to her husband with Edmund feels that he is more able 💪 and brave 🧠 than her husband. They reach the residence but Albany is not happy 😣 to hear the news of brutal acts 😮 done by the sisters their own father 😔 and Gloucester. Albany denounces his wife 😡. When she learns that Cornwall is murdered 🔪, she doubts if Regan would steal him 🤔.

In fear of what might happen 😦, Goneril sends a letter through Oswald ✉️. Then she confirms that Regan too has affection for Edmund 😳 that she is more interested to let Goneril know that she is a good match 😵 for Edmund rather than mourning 😢 for her dead husband.

The Lust Letter

Oswald is killed 🔪 by Edgar when he tries murder Gloucester upon the commands of Regan. He then gets a letter ✉️ from his pocket written by 📜 Goneril. This letter is written ✍️ to Edmund requesting him to murder 🗡️ her husband and marry her💍. This letter is handed over to Albany, Goneril’s husband.

The War 🗡️ 🏹

“No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison:

We two alone will sing like birds i’ the cage:

When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down,

And ask of thee forgiveness: so we’ll live,

And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh

At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues

Talk of court news; and we’ll talk with them too,

Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out;

And take upon’s the mystery of things,

As if we were God’s spies: and we’ll wear out,

In a wall’d prison, packs and sects of great ones,

That ebb and flow by the moon”.

King Lear
King Lear |William Shakespeare |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review |Shakespearean Tragedy |Cordelia |Gloucester
Cordelia Nursing King Lear

Kent takes Lear to Cordelia. Cordelia takes good care of him that he is recovered 🤗 from his madness 🥴. The French army is led by Cordelia 🗡️ and her husband while the British army led by Albany 🏹. Albany has already commanded his army not to harm Cordelia and King Lear 🙅🏻‍♂️. Edmund who has promised 🤝 both the sisters has made his plan to kill Albany, Lear and Cordelia 😯. The British army defeats the French; Lear and Cordelia are taken as prisoners ☹️. Meanwhile, Edmund gives secret orders 🔒 to execute both the father and daughter.

Edmund: The Traitor

King Lear |William Shakespeare |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review | Shakespearean Tragedy
Edmund of the play King Lear

After the victory ✌️ of the British army, Regan announces her marriage 💍 with Edmund. But Albany puts a period to it, exposing Edmund as a traitor 😠, who has also promised to marry Goneril. But this exposure was too late, Goneril had already poisoned 🧫 Regan. She falls ill soon 🤒 and dies. Edmund states these as accusations against him 😞 and calls Albany for trial by combat ⚔️.

But instead of Albany, Edgar arrives masked 🎭. The duel ⚔️ happens and Edmund is wounded. He then unmasks and reveals that Gloucester has also died ⚰️ knowing that Edgar is alive 😊. He died in happiness even though he had gone through a lot of pain 😢. Goneril flees 😩 as Albany exposes Goneril’s letter ✉️ after which she commits suicide 😬.

Edmund’s Confession

“Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones!

Had I your tongues and eyes, I’d use them so

That heaven’s vault should crack. She’s gone forever.

I know when one is dead and when one lives.

She’s dead as earth.—Lend me a looking glass.

If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,

Why, then she lives”.

King Lear
King Lear |William Shakespeare |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review |Shakespearean Tragedy
King Lear holding the corpse of Cordelia

Edmund at least confesses 🗣️ that he had secretly ordered to execute 🗡️ Lear and Cordelia. Albany commands 😲 to countermand them. But it was late. Lear arrives with the corpse of 😩 Cordelia after killing the executioner. Albany requests him to remained throned🙏🏻, he refuses and dies ⚰️ heartbroken 💔. Albany then requests Kent to lead them, but he refuses 🙅🏻‍♂️ it and accepts to follow his King 👑. It is then Albany and Edgar who lead 🤝 the country later.

‘King Lear’: Structure

  • Act I: 5 Scenes
  • Act II: 4 Scenes
  • Act III: 7 Scenes
  • Act IV: 7 Scenes
  • Act V: 3 Scenes

“I am a man

More sinned against than sinning”.

King Lear

This five act play of William Shakespeare is a play which portrays the fall of a British King. He, who was flattered by the honeyed words of his cruel daughters was later thrown out to the heaths who is then protected by his disinherited daughter Cordelia. The play has a subplot within it with the story of the Earl of Gloucester and his sons. Both the fathers share the same defect and later the same fate. They couldn’t understand who loved them with all their heart, which was inexpressible through words.

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Naeema Jaleel

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Writer at Inclined Scorpio


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