OWL Magazine Korea

“King Lear” by William Shakespeare

The renowned British playwright William Shakespeare left behind numerous works, among which are four major tragedies that culminate in tragic endings, collectively known as the “Four Great Tragedies.”

The works that embrace tragic conclusions are as follows:

  1. King Lear
  2. Hamlet
  3. Othello
  4. Macbeth

“Shakespeare’s Four Great Tragedies: King Lear”

Among Shakespeare’s four major tragedies, “King Lear” is generally the first to be introduced. “King Lear” follows a typical structure based on a tragic ending. Even in modern times, there are works inspired by “King Lear” that create stories in similar or analogous forms.

Since most of Shakespeare’s works were written for the stage, they were performed as plays at the Globe Theatre in England during Shakespeare’s active years. With the advancement of film technology over the years, some of his works have also been adapted into movies.

The film “Ran,” produced in Japan in 1985, was inspired by Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” It adapts the story of King Lear to a Japanese setting. Thus, past masterpieces continue to inspire and be reincarnated in various forms to this day.

“Plot of King Lear”

King Lear of Britain has three daughters: Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia. Deeming himself too old to govern the kingdom, Lear decides to divide his realm among his three daughters based on how much they profess to love him. While Goneril and Regan profess their love with flattering words, Cordelia, his youngest and most beloved daughter, refuses to flatter him and simply says, “Nothing.”

Failing to recognize Cordelia’s sincerity, Lear becomes enraged and disowns her, dividing the kingdom between Goneril and Regan. Cordelia is then married off without a dowry to the King of France and banished.

Tragedy unfolds from this point onwards. Goneril and Regan, having received their shares of the kingdom, soon reveal their malevolent intentions, leading to Lear being cast out into a storm, stripped of all power. Upon hearing this news, Cordelia leads the French army to restore Lear’s authority and confronts Goneril and Regan’s forces.

Although Cordelia and Lear are taken captive after their army is defeated, the treachery of Goneril and Regan is exposed through the efforts of Kent and Gloucester’s son Edgar. The situation is eventually resolved. A messenger rushes to save Cordelia and Lear from execution, but Cordelia tragically dies just before they arrive. Lear, holding Cordelia’s lifeless body, dies in anguish shortly thereafter.

“A Work with a Solid Storyline and Unexpected Twists”

Despite being written in the 16th century, Shakespeare’s works exhibit solid storytelling comparable to modern works. It’s remarkable that such a tightly woven narrative was crafted in an era when computers didn’t exist, and materials like paper and pen were scarce.

When comparing Shakespeare’s works to literature from the Renaissance and about a century earlier from the medieval period, there’s a significant difference in quality. While one can find commendable works in the literature of the medieval period, such as those by Geoffrey Chaucer, who lived about a century before Shakespeare, they don’t quite reach the level of complexity and intricate character relationships found in Shakespeare’s works.

Perhaps due to these reasons, Shakespeare continues to be regarded as one of the greatest playwrights in literary history. His reputation is not only based on the quantity of his works but also the exceptional quality of each individual piece.

“King Lear”

  • Author: William Shakespeare
  • Publication Date: November 20, 2005
  • ISBN-13: 9788937461279
  • Yes24: http://app.ac/Uqpnq7273