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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

King Lear

"King Lear" is considered to be one of Shakespeare's greatest works of all time. OF ALL TIME! That's a pretty big order to fill!  I love gut-wrenching, convoluted, indecipherable tragedies just as much as the next gal- Romeo and Juliet has been a favorite of mine long before Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes totally nailed the modernized version on the big screen.  That being said, it took me a long time to trudge through it (who doesn't love trying to understand Shakespearian prose, amiright?) and there were definitely a few words I didn't understand, but the story still managed to shine through in all of it's depressing glory.

Long story short:
King Lear is a self-important aging ruler who is generally viewed as being eccentric. He asks his three daughters to describe how much they love him, and the one who does it best will get the largest piece of his kingdom. He totally expects his youngest and most favorite daughter, Cordelia, to give the best answer. His other daughters, Regan and Goneril, also expect Cordelia to win- but since they're self-serving wenches of the most conniving and competitive sort, they are masters at the art of ass kissery (if Shakespeare can invent words, so can I!).

Regan and Goneril perform their ass kissery with grace and false affection and impress their father as expected. When it comes to be Cordelia's turn, she bucks the trend by keeping it short and sweet, and says that she can't put her love for her father into words. This infuriates the vain crazy king, so he disinherits her and calls her a disgrace. The king of France, who has been making eyes at Cordelia for a while, says he will marry her even without her land- so she takes him up on the offer and moves to France without her father's blessing (and presumably eats a lot of tasty baked goods, because that is totally what I would do).

Before long, the true colors of Lear's eldest daughters shine through and their general mistreatment slowly drives him even more completely batshit insane, so that he's nuttier than a squirrel turd- which prompts him to run off and be crazy on the heath (big open area dominated by low growing woody vegetation- thanks Wikipedia!) during some nasty stormy weather.

While this is going on some nobleman, Gloucester, (who is loyal  to Lear) has to deal with his illegitimate son causing trouble. The illegitimate son, Edmund, is a total douche. He probably wears a lot of Ed Hardy and watches The Jersey Shore and thinks it's gospel. Aside from two-timing Regan and the married Goneril, he also convinces Gloucester that his legitimate son, Edgar, is out to kill him- thus causing a manhunt for Edgar. It's pretty much an episode of Jerry Springer from the middle ages.

Then some more bad stuff happens and pretty much everyone dies. Edgar kills Edmund, Goneril poisons Regan out of jealousy over Edmund, then poisons herself. Gloucester dies after spending most of the story blind after having his eyeballs forcibly removed. Cordelia dies after being needlessly executed in prison, and Lear dies from grief after losing Cordelia.

The end.

Kinda makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it? No? Me either!


  1. I tried to hard to read this, once upon a time, but I gotta tell you, Shakespeare is hard.

  2. It is- and I'm out of practice! That's why it took so long. Next up is 'The Secret Garden' which is considerably easier and very enjoyable so far!