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King Lear / Edition 1

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Overview

King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The titular character descends into madness after disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all. Based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological pre-Roman Celtic king, the play has been widely adapted for the stage and motion pictures, with the title role coveted by many of the world's most accomplished actors.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 5-9

Each book opens with a list of characters and a description of the setting. Background information, a short synopsis, famous phrases from the play, and a biographical sketch of Shakespeare are also included. Described as titles for reluctant readers, each slim volume is written in large-sized font and includes full-color illustrations covering between two to five panels per age. All dialogue has been extracted from the original play, which exposes readers to Shakespearean language. Explanatory text boxes judiciously placed throughout the panels enhance readers' understanding of characters, actions, and events. With substantial front and back matter, these adaptations seem best suited for instructional purposes. Additional explanation, discussion, and further reading may be required if young readers are to understand the Shakespearean phrases and interlocking plots as well as the subject matter of these plays: madness, human suffering, suicide, revenge, and murder. However, the books will serve as introductions to the Bard for older, reluctant readers. Dunn's illustrations for Hamlet and King Lear were done in a straightforward style and have rich, dramatic colors. Espinosa's use of a limited color palette for A Midsummer Night's Dream suits the moonlight setting. This adaptation's inclusion of Puck's rhyming introduction to the characters is a delightful addition.-Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

Kirkus Reviews
From an artist known for his vivid graphic-novel reworkings of Beowulf (2007) and The Merchant of Venice (2008) comes this nuanced adaptation of King Lear. Employing a range of artistic styles that convey dramatic mood, the artist begins the play almost as a fairy tale, featuring bright, softly washed drawings. Once Cordelia is cast out and things sour, the images become darker and more compact. As the king descends into madness, the art becomes downright menacing, with Lear appearing as a jagged, ghostly figure drawn with white pencil on a dark background. These visual cues assist to a degree in deciphering the meaning of the Shakespearean language. Much of the text of the play remains intact, though in the backmatter Hinds dissects page by page what changes were made and why, offering scholarly interpretations that are both insightful and cleanly summative. The story doesn't leap from page, but this is a remarkably rendered and worthwhile treatment of the tragedy. (Graphic drama. 13 & up)
From the Publisher

"A quite wonderful idea. So blindingly obvious, I can't understand why nobody had thought of it before. I will certainly use the texts myself."—Sir Peter Hall

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780321107220
  • Publisher: Longman
  • Publication date: 8/3/2004
  • Series: Longman Cultural Editions Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,152,915
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 7.95 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Claire McEachern is Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her other editions of Shakespeare include the Arden 3 edition of Much Ado About Nothing (2006); 1&2 Henry IV, Henry V, King John and All's Well that Ends Well (Pelican, 2001). She is also the author or editor of the Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy (CUP, 2004); Religion and Culture in the English Renaissance (CUP, 1997), and The Poetics of English Nationhood, 1590-1612 (CUP, 2006).
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Act 1 Scene 1 running scene 1

Enter Kent, Gloucester and Edmund

KENT I thought the king had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.

GLOUCESTER It did always seem so to us: but now in the division of the kingdom it appears not which of the dukes he values most, for qualities are so weighed that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety.

KENT Is not this your son, my lord?

GLOUCESTER His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often blushed to acknowledge him that now I am brazed to't.

KENT I cannot conceive you.

GLOUCESTER Sir, this young fellow's mother could; whereupon she grew round-wombed and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault?

KENT I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.

GLOUCESTER But I have a son, sir, by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account, though this knave came something saucily to the world before he was sent for: yet was his mother fair, there was good sport at his making and the whoreson must be acknowledged.- Do you know this noble gentleman, Edmund?

EDMUND No, my lord.

GLOUCESTER My lord of Kent: remember him hereafter as my honourable friend.

EDMUND My services to your lordship.

KENT I must love you, and sue to know you better.

EDMUND Sir, I shall study deserving.

GLOUCESTER He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again. The king is coming.

Sennet. Enter [one bearing a coronet, then] King Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia and Attendants

LEAR Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.

GLOUCESTER I shall, my lord. Exit

LEAR Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.

Give me the map there. Kent or an Attendant gives Lear a map

Know that we have divided

In three our kingdom, and 'tis our fast intent

To shake all cares and business from our age,

Conferring them on younger strengths while we

Unburdened crawl toward death. Our son of

Cornwall,

And you our no less loving son of Albany,

We have this hour a constant will to publish

Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife

May be prevented now. The princes, France and

Burgundy,

Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,

Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn

And here are to be answered. Tell me, my

daughters -

Since now we will divest us both of rule,

Interest of territory, cares of state -

Which of you shall we say doth love us most,

That we our largest bounty may extend

Where nature doth with merit challenge? Goneril,

Our eldest born, speak first.

GONERIL Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter,

Dearer than eyesight, space and liberty,

Beyond what can be valued rich or rare,

No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour:

As much as child e'er loved or father found:

A love that makes breath poor and speech unable:

Beyond all manner of so much I love you.

CORDELIA What shall Cordelia speak? Love and be silent. Aside

LEAR Of all these bounds, even from this line to this, Points With shadowy forests and with champaigns riched, to the map

With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,

We make thee lady. To thine and Albany's issues

Be this perpetual.- What says our second daughter?

Our dearest Regan, wife of Cornwall?

REGAN I am made of that self-mettle as my sister,

And prize me at her worth. In my true heart,

I find she names my very deed of love:

Only she comes too short, that I profess

Myself an enemy to all other joys

Which the most precious square of sense professes,

And find I am alone felicitate

In your dear highness' love.

CORDELIA Then poor Cordelia: Aside

And yet not so, since I am sure my love's

More ponderous than my tongue.

LEAR To thee and thine hereditary ever

Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,

No less in space, validity and pleasure

Than that conferred on Goneril.- Now, our joy, To Cordelia

Although our last and least, to whose young love

The vines of France and milk of Burgundy

Strive to be interessed, what can you say to draw

A third more opulent than your sisters'? Speak.

CORDELIA Nothing, my lord.

LEAR Nothing?

CORDELIA Nothing.

LEAR Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.

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.

LEAR How, how, Cordelia? Mend your speech a little,

Lest you may mar your fortunes.

CORDELIA Good my lord,

You have begot me, bred me, loved me:

I return those duties back as are right fit,

Obey you, love you and most honour you.

Why have my sisters husbands if they say

They love you all? Happily when I shall wed,

That lord whose hand must take my plight shall

carry

Half my love with him, half my care and duty:

Sure I shall never marry like my sisters.

LEAR But goes thy heart with this?

CORDELIA Ay, my good lord.

LEAR So young and so untender?

CORDELIA So young, my lord, and true.

LEAR Let it be so: thy truth then be thy dower,

For by the sacred radiance of the sun,

The mysteries of Hecate and the night,

By all the operation of the orbs

From whom we do exist and cease to be,

Here I disclaim all my paternal care,

Propinquity and property of blood,

And as a stranger to my heart and me

Hold thee from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian,

Or he that makes his generation messes

To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom

Be as well neighboured, pitied and relieved

As thou my sometime daughter.

KENT Good my liege-

LEAR Peace, Kent:

Come not between the dragon and his wrath.

I loved her most, and thought to set my rest

On her kind nursery.- Hence, and avoid my sight!- To

So be my grave my peace, as here I give Cordelia

Her father's heart from her. Call France. Who stirs?

Call Burgundy.- Cornwall and Albany,

[Exit Attendant]

With my two daughters' dowers digest the third.

Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.

I do invest you jointly with my power,

Pre-eminence, and all the large effects

That troop with majesty. Ourself by monthly course,

With reservation of an hundred knights

By you to be sustained, shall our abode

Make with you by due turn: only we shall retain

The name and all th'addition to a king: the sway,

Revenue, execution of the rest,

Belovèd sons, be yours, which to confirm,

This coronet part between you. Gives them coronet to break in half

KENT Royal Lear,

Whom I have ever honoured as my king,

Loved as my father, as my master followed,

As my great patron thought on in my prayers-

LEAR The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft.

KENT Let it fall rather, though the fork invade

The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly

When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man?

Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak

When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's

bound

When majesty falls to folly. Reserve thy state,

And in thy best consideration check

This hideous rashness. Answer my life my

judgement:

Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least,

Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sounds

Reverb no hollowness.

LEAR Kent, on thy life, no more.

KENT My life I never held but as pawn

To wage against thine enemies, ne'er fear to lose it,

Thy safety being motive.

LEAR Out of my sight!

KENT See better, Lear, and let me still remain

The true blank of thine eye.

LEAR Now, by Apollo-

KENT Now, by Apollo, king,

Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.

LEAR O, vassal! Miscreant! Puts his hand on his sword or attacks Kent

ALBANY and CORDELIA Dear sir, forbear.

KENT Kill thy physician, and thy fee bestow

Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,

Or whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,

I'll tell thee thou dost evil.

LEAR Hear me, recreant, on thine allegiance hear me!

That thou hast sought to make us break our vows,

Which we durst never yet, and with strained pride

To come betwixt our sentences and our power,

Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,

Our potency made good, take thy reward:

Five days we do allot thee for provision

To shield thee from disasters of the world,

And on the sixth to turn thy hated back

Upon our kingdom: if on the next day following

Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions,

The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter,

This shall not be revoked.

KENT Fare thee well, king: sith thus thou wilt appear,

Freedom lives hence and banishment is here.-

The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid, To Cordelia

That justly think'st, and hast most rightly said.-

And your large speeches may your deeds approve, To Goneril

That good effects may spring from words of love. and Regan

Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu.

He'll shape his old course in a country new. Exit

Flourish. Enter Gloucester with France and Burgundy, Attendants

CORDELIA Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.

LEAR My lord of Burgundy,

We first address toward you, who with this king

Hath rivalled for our daughter: what in the least

Will you require in present dower with her,

Or cease your quest of love?

BURGUNDY Most royal majesty,

I crave no more than hath your highness offered,

Nor will you tender less.

LEAR Right noble Burgundy,

When she was dear to us, we did hold her so,

But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands:

If aught within that little seeming substance,

Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced,

And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,

She's there, and she is yours.

BURGUNDY I know no answer.

LEAR Will you, with those infirmities she owes,

Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,

Dowered with our curse and strangered with our

oath,

Take her or leave her?

BURGUNDY Pardon me, royal sir:

Election makes not up in such conditions.

LEAR Then leave her, sir, for by the power that made me,

I tell you all her wealth.- For you, great king, To France

I would not from your love make such a stray

To match you where I hate, therefore beseech you

T'avert your liking a more worthier way

Than on a wretch whom nature is ashamed

Almost t'acknowledge hers.

FRANCE This is most strange,

That she whom even but now was your object,

The argument of your praise, balm of your age,

The best, the dearest, should in this trice of time

Commit a thing so monstrous to dismantle

So many folds of favour. Sure her offence

Must be of such unnatural degree

That monsters it, or your fore-vouched affection

Fall into taint, which to believe of her

Must be a faith that reason without miracle

Should never plant in me.

CORDELIA I yet beseech your majesty -

If for I want that glib and oily art

To speak and purpose not, since what I will intend

I'll do't before I speak - that you make known

It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,

No unchaste action or dishonoured step

That hath deprived me of your grace and favour,

But even for want of that for which I am richer:

A still-soliciting eye and such a tongue

That I am glad I have not, though not to have it

Hath lost me in your liking.

LEAR Better thou hadst

Not been born than not t'have pleased me better.

FRANCE Is it but this? A tardiness in nature,

Which often leaves the history unspoke

That it intends to do? My lord of Burgundy,

What say you to the lady? Love's not love

When it is mingled with regards that stands

Aloof from th'entire point. Will you have her?

She is herself a dowry.

BURGUNDY Royal king, To Lear

Give but that portion which yourself proposed,

And here I take Cordelia by the hand,

Duchess of Burgundy.

LEAR Nothing: I have sworn: I am firm.

BURGUNDY I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father To Cordelia

That you must lose a husband.

CORDELIA Peace be with Burgundy.

Since that respect and fortunes are his love,

I shall not be his wife.

FRANCE Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich being poor,

Most choice forsaken, and most loved despised,

Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon:

Be it lawful, I take up what's cast away. Takes her hand

Gods, gods! 'Tis strange that from their cold'st neglect

My love should kindle to inflamed respect.-

Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance,

Is queen of us, of ours and our fair France:

Not all the dukes of wat'rish Burgundy

Can buy this unprized precious maid of me.-

Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind.

Thou losest here, a better where to find.

LEAR Thou hast her, France: let her be thine, for we

Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see

That face of hers again. Therefore be gone

Without our grace, our love, our benison.

Come, noble Burgundy.

Flourish. Exeunt. [France and the sisters remain]

FRANCE Bid farewell to your sisters.

CORDELIA The jewels of our father, with washèd eyes

Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are,

And like a sister am most loath to call

Your faults as they are named. Love well our father:

To your professèd bosoms I commit him,

But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,

I would prefer him to a better place.

So farewell to you both.

REGAN Prescribe not us our duty.

GONERIL Let your study

Be to content your lord who hath received you

At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,

And well are worth the want that you have wanted.

CORDELIA Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides:

Who covers faults, at last with shame derides.

Well may you prosper.

FRANCE Come, my fair Cordelia. Exit France and Cordelia

GONERIL Sister, it is not little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will hence tonight.

REGAN That's most certain, and with you: next month with us.

GONERIL You see how full of changes his age is: the observation we have made of it hath not been little. He always loved our sister most, and with what poor judgement he hath now cast her off appears too grossly.

REGAN 'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.

GONERIL The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash. Then must we look from his age to receive not alone the imperfections of long-engrafted condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with them.

REGAN Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of Kent's banishment.

GONERIL There is further compliment of leave-taking between France and him. Pray you let us sit together: if our father carry authority with such disposition as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us.

REGAN We shall further think of it.

GONERIL We must do something, and i'th'heat. Exeunt

Act 1 Scene 2 running scene 2

Enter Bastard [Edmund] With a letter

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

About Longman Cultural Editions ix

About This Edition xi

Introduction xiv

Table of Dates xxii

King Lear 1

The Texts of King Lear 134

Contexts 139

Shakespeare’s Narrative and Dramatic Sources 141

RAPHAEL HOLINSHED, from “The Second Booke of the Historie of England” in The First and Second Volumes of Chronicles (1587) 144

From The True Chronicle History of King Leir and his three daughters . . . As it hath beene divers and sundry times lately acted (1605) 147

SIR PHILIP SIDNEY, from The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia (1590) 154

The State 158

From An Exhortation Concerning Good Order and Obedience to Rulers and Magistrates (1570) 160

CHARLES MERBURY, from A Brief Discourse of Royal Monarchie, as of the Best Common Weale (1581) 162

SIR THOMAS SMITH, from De Republica Anglorum (1583) 163
JAMES VI OF SCOTLAND, from The Trew Law of Free Monarchies (1599) 164
JAMES I OF ENGLAND, from A Speech [. . .] delivered in the Upper House of Parliament on Monday the 19 March 1604, being the first day of the First Parliament 167

THOMAS SACKVILLE AND THOMAS NORTON, from Gorbuduc (1562) 169

SAMUEL HARSNETT, from A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures (1603) 173

The Household 176

MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE, from “Of the Affection of Fathers for Their Children” from The Essays (London, 1603) 179

WILLIAM GOUGE, from Of Domesticall Duties (1622) 184

JOSEPH SWETNAM, from The Arraignment of Lewde, Idle, Forward, and Unconstant Women (1615) 191
JANE ANGER, from Her Protection for Women (1589) 193

Fools and Folly 194

ERASMUS, from A Letter to Martin Dorp (1515) 195

ROBERT ARMIN, from Foole upon Foole (1600) 196

“Good” and “Evil” 200

WILLIAM HARRISON, from “Of the Ancient Religion Used in Albion” (1587) 201 JEAN CALVIN, from Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536) 205 RICHARD HOOKER, from Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (1593) 209 THOMAS HOBBES, from Leviathan (1651) 215 ST. AUGUSTINE, from The City of God, Book XIX (c. 413—427) 218

Early Readings and Rewritings 220

NAHUM TATE, from The History of King Lear (1681) 222

LEWIS THEOBALD, from The Censor (1715) 230

SAMUEL JOHNSON, from “Notes on King Lear” in The Plays of William Shakespeare (London, 1765) 233

GEORGE COLMAN, from the Preface to The History of King Lear (1768) 236
CHARLES LAMB, from “On the Tragedies of Shakespeare, considered with reference to their fitness for stage representation” (1810) 238
CHARLES LAMB, from “King Lear” in Tales from Shakespeare (1807) 241

WILLIAM HAZLITT, from The Characters of Shakespear’sPlays (1818) 247
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, from Lectures on Shakespeare (1818) 251

JOHN KEATS, “On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again” (1818) 254

A. C. BRADLEY, from Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth (1904) 255

Adaptations of King Lear 259

Further Reading 261

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