" This is not the case with Shakespeare's Lear, a tragedy of such consuming force that audiences and readers are left to wonder whether there is any meaning to the physical and moral carnage with which King Lear concludes. Like the noble Kent, seeing a mad, pathetic Lear with the murdered Cordelia in his arms, the profound brutality of the tale compels us to wonder "Is this the promis'd end?" (V, iii. l.264). That very question stands at the divide between traditional critics of King Lear who find a heroic pattern in the story, and modern readers who see no redeeming or purgative dimension to the play at all, the message being the bare futility of the human condition with Lear as Everyman. "























Electronic Text (E-text online)




Summary of the play:

Brief Plot Summary:


A more detailed plot summary by Robert and Mary Lamb:



Online Student Essays:

"Analysis of King Lear"
"King Lear-Good vs Evil"
"Clear Vision in King Lear"
"Shakespeare's King Lear"
"King Lear: Theme of Blindness":
"King Lear-Analyzing a Tragic Hero"
"King Lear Assignment"
Site offering appraisals of the characters in the play


Study Questions:

Study Questions

A wonderful mega-site devoted to themes and issues in the play: http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~scoggins/316british/kinglear/index2.html

A helpful site devoted entirely to one Shakespeare teacher's notes about the play, with other valuable links to sites related to the play: http://thehub.com.au/~greg/lear.html


Study Questions for Shakespeare's King Lear

quoted from http://www.jetlink.net/~massij/wssq/lear.html

1. Why the Gloucester subplot?
2. Lear asks 3 important questions during the storm. Find them. Why are they important? How can they be answered?
3. What does the storm represent?
4. What does clothing represent? Why does Lear try to shed his?
5. What part does divine intervention play? Is there a God or gods?
6. How do parents relate to their children in this world? Are the children anything like their individual parents?
7. Watch for references to seeing, eyes, perception, disease, and self-knowledge. How do these motifs and issues function in this play?
8. Watch the speech patterns of individual characters. Who speaks in verse? In prose? In gibberish? In dialect? When? Why? Why are there so many types of speech in this play?
9. Who does Lear address in his madness? Why?
10. What is the purpose of the Fool? What is his ultimate fate?
11. Is Edgar a plausible character? Why does he maintain his disguise for so long?
12. Is there any ultimate justice in this play? Is evil punished or good rewarded?
13. Critics have called Lear "unproducible". Do you agree? Why or why not?
14. Is Shakespeare making any statements about women and power in this play? Can you tell Goneril and Regan apart? Does Cordelia resemble them or her father in any way?


Study notes for each scene of the play:


A variety of content exercises about the play: http://thehub.com.au/~greg/contexts.html#contexts



The play in performance on the stage and film:

Brief overview of historic productions of the play between 1606 and 1997: http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/klasi.html

Views of the play by directors, actors, and critics: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/archive/lear/index.shtml

The Shakespeare Theatre's play notes about the play: http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/klasi.html

"A Close Look at King Lear on Film":


Discussion of Peter Brooks' film version of the play: