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Flashcards in King Lear Critical Readings Deck (18)
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'Tragedy means a literary composition written in happier times recalling events that ended in misery'


David Scott Kastan '...the idea...'

'...the idea of tragedy is to fall from prosperity to wretchedness'


David Scott Kastan ' its very simplicity...'

' its very simplicity, it calls attention to tragedy's power, making it universal and inexplicable'


Frank Kermode

'We know we can't count on divine human justice to intervene in the worst moment of life and what King Lear tries to do is to make us give our real assent to that knowledge'


J. Dover Willson

'To Edmund...'Nature' is a force encouraging the individual to think only of his own desires...even if that involves him in trampling others...'



The aim of the main plot is the 'Education and purification of Lear'



‘Ingratitude is crucial to the interpretation of the storm metaphor. It is that evil which breaks the heart of Lear and shatters his reason’


Dollimore 'for the humanist...'

‘For the humanist the tragic paradox arises here: debasement gives rise to dignity and at the moment when Lear might be expected to be most brutalised he becomes most human’


Arnold Kettle

'Lear's madness is not such a breakdown as a breakthrough, it is necessary'


Dollimore 'a play about...'

King Lear is "a play about power, property and inheritance...a catastrophic redistribution of power and property - and, eventually, a civil war - disclose the awful truth that [in capitalist society] these two things are somehow prior to the laws of human kindness and not vice-versa."


Jon Danby

'King Lear can be regarded as a play dramatising the meaning of the single word 'Nature'...two main meanings, strongly contrasted and mutually exclusive run through the play. On the one side is the view adopted by Edmund, Goneril and Regan. On the other is the view largely held by the Lear party.'


G. Wilson Knight

'[Edmund] repudiates and rejects 'custom, civilisation'. He obeys nature's law of selfishness.'


G. K. Hunter

'The two sisters are alike in their concern for the metallic and legalistic aspects of the exchange, a statement traded for land, and more abstractly, power'


Thomas P. Roach

En of the play - "as bleak and unrewarding as man can reach outside the gates of hell"


Jan Kott on the fool

"the only true madness is to regard the world as rational"



"Lear is still pathetically unwise in worldly matters at the end of the play" but none of this matters because "he has learned that which, especially for a dying man, is all important"


Tony Church

"the balance of sympathy tends to be partly with the two elder daughters because of the position in which Lear has put them"



'The play is ultimately anti-feminist, and cannot be read but as an endorsement of the necessity for male power over the disruptive female desires which have brought about the tragedy'