king lear context

  • Created by: Abi Crew
  • Created on: 04-06-22 09:39
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  • king lear context
    • jacobean england
      • written in 1605, between othello and macbeth
      • setting KL in an ancient land deflected accusations of criticising london society and kept the monarch as a supporter
      • the globe and shakespeare would not have survived without the king's support
    • contemporary issues with inheritance
      • shortly before the play was written, 3 sisters tried to have their elderly father declared insane so that they could take his property
      • the mayor of london was treated poorly by his 3 daughters after dividing his wealth among them
    • the political landscape
      • years of civil war/political upheaval
      • civil and religious chaos after the death of henry viii, conflict between catholicism and protestantism resulting in many deaths (esp. under mary i)
      • elizabeths rule was good, but people were worried because she was unmarried, refused to select an heir and technically a *******
        • solved in 1603 when elizabeth appointed james, to the relief of citizens who did not want a repeat of the last transfer of power
    • shakespeare's sources
      • derived from the myth of leir of britain
      • KL first performed on st stephens day 1606
      • in the original source work, cordelia does not die
    • bedlam beggars
      • 'tom o bedlam' is an anonymous poem in the 'mad song' genre
      • 'tom o bedlam' and 'bedlam beggar' were terms used in early modern britain and later to describe beggars and vagrants who feigned mental illness
      • 'bedlam' is a morphed pronunciation nickname for the bethlehem mental institution of elizabethan london
    • the nature of tragedy
      • aristotle
        • the audience must know that justice is served to heighten moral evaluations
        • according to 'poetics', a tragedy should be a single serious complete action with ornate language,
      • a.c. bradley
        • a shakespearean tragedy evokes pity, fear and mystery
        • focuses on the internal conflict of a 'hero', whose downfall has wide reaching consequences
      • catharsis and humour used to enhance moments of visceral tragedy


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