Explore the significance of 'King Lear' for a contemporary audience. Use quotes and specific references to support your position.

Essay by girHigh School, 12th grade February 2007

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'King Lear' by Shakespeare is still being read and analysed by countless numbers around the world after decades it was actually written. Such a feat already portrays its quality and significance as a text to today's contemporary audience. One of the major reasons it has attained such a position in society is its ability to be interpreted in limitless ways. Many interpretations have been considered and made reflecting how it is applicable to basically any sort of context or society.

A common interpretation of the play is the exploration of power and authority and how it can be used and abused. Many believe this play conveys such an issue and how it can affect such relevant aspects of life such as family. The play is based around a royal family indicating that the characters within the play are composed of great power. The events that take place demonstrate the effects of what can happen when power is abused.

Lear dividing his land between Regan and Goneril before disowning Cordelia is such an event. Kent is the character who seems to see that such an action was an unwise decision.

"Be Kent unmannerly / When Lear is mad. What wouldst though do, old man? / Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak / When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor's / bound" (I.i.143-147)

In such a setting, Kent speaking out in such a way would have been considered very inappropriate illustrating the extent of the error made and foreshadowing the negative consequences to come. The storm that enrages after Lear is abandoned by his daughters symbolises the chaos that he has produced by his actions.

"Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm / Invades us to the skin" (III.iv.6-7)

The storm is of great strength...