Readings of King Lear

Essay by BP_CanaryHigh School, 12th gradeA, March 2002

download word file, 4 pages 4.7

"King Lear" by William Shakespeare is a play that can be read in about as many ways as there are stars in the sky. The list of possible readings is endless, they range from a gendered reading, a political reading, even a moralistic reading. With each new stage production of the play, everyone from the average blue-collar worker, to a Shakespeare enthusiast has the opportunity to interpret the play in his or her own way. It is for this reason that it is not surprising to see new interpretations of the themes and issues raised in the play, considering the vast diversity of people and cultures in our contemporary society. Various adaptations of the play on the big and the small screen have made the play more accessible to children, as well as others who might not have had the chance to go to a theatre. With more and more people seeing the play, it is understandable that King Lear is becoming an increasingly valued piece of literature.

Modern day feminists are likely to take a gendered or feminist reading. A gendered reading may highlight issues that are seen to be issues that concern the supposed dominance that males have over females. Perhaps because of the time period it was written in, "King Lear" has many issues that can be argued as sexist. For example, the transformation of Lear from a "hardened" king to a more emotional and caring father figure, which is mostly frowned upon during the play, could be seen as degrading to people who possess these qualities, especially women. Another issue that could be seen as degrading to women is the constant competition between the three sisters for the attention of the males.

There are several scenes in the play that can drastically...