King Lear Critical Quotes – Critic Names

John Danby Cordelia, for Shakespeare, is virtue
John Southworth In some of the earliest European records the fool is designated nebulo… a paltry, worthless fellow… it was only in relation to his master that he was able to gain identity
A.C. Bradley (sub) The sub-plot simply repeats the theme of the main story… this repetition does not simply double the pain of the tragedy, it startles and terrifies by suggesting that the folly of Lear and the ingratitude of his daughters is no accident
Gamini Salgado (pur) If we ask ourselves what the purpose of [Cordelia’s death] is, the best answer we can come up with may be that the very pointlessness of Cordelia’s death and Lea’s suffering is the point
G. Wilson Knight Her speech sounds plain and stiff, almost clumsy, but the stiffness is natural. It is the sudden awkwardness of anyone who has been called on to ally herself with hypocrisy
Gamini Salgado (imp) Cordelia has an impact on the play and the audience… out of all proportion to the scanty number of words she utters
Cheri Y. Halvorson (bei) Shakespeare uses the beings that his world deems lowly and foolish to destabilize conventional wisdom about class and to subvert the hierarchical expectations of his culture
Cheri Y. Halvorson (pro) The profound wisdom and insight of Lear’s fool enable him to expose the foolish thoughts and deeds of those who inhabit the higher ranks of society
Gamini Salgado (beg) In simplest terms, Lear at the beginning of the play is a King, a father, a master and a man. As the action develops, the first three roles are stripped from him and he is forced to consider what the last of them means
Colderidge There is something of disgust at the ruthless hypocrisy of her sisters, and some little fault of pride and sullenness in her
A. C. Bradley (obj) We might object to the statement that Lear deserved to suffer for his folly, selfishness and tyranny; but to assert that he deserved to suffer what he did suffer is to do violence to any moral sense
N. Brooke It is still not uncommon to read account of King Lear which offer Lear’s willful folly in Act 1, Scene 1 as the fault which brings the vengeful heavens literally crashing about him
A.C. Bradley (scar) It is scarcely possible that a nature so strong as Cordelia’s, and with so keen a sense of dignity, should not feel some pride and resentment.
SL Goldberg The scene does not offer us clear distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad, so much as to draw us into sympathetic engagement with both characters
Robert Hillis Goldsmith Out of the mixed attitude toward the fool grew his licence to speak freely and behave capriciously
Keith Wrightson They envisaged a ‘great chain of being’ stretching down from the deity to the very elements, in which each creature, each created thing, had it’s appointed place
Thomas Hobbes In the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly diffidence [ie suspicion, mistrust]; thirdly, glory. The first maketh man invade for gain; the second for safety; and the third for reputation
GB Harrison ‘Nature’, ‘natural’, and ‘unnatural’ recur again and again with every shade of meaning and misunderstanding
Samuel Johnson It is disputed today whether the predominant image in Lear’s disordered mind be the loss of his kingdom or the cruelty of his daughters. Mr Murphy, a very judicious critic, has evinced but induction of particular passages that the cruelty of his daughters is the primary source of his distress, and that the loss of royalty affects him only as a secondary and subordinate evil
Lisa Jardine Within the tightly-knit Renaissance household the wife’s tongue is her only weapon
Diane Bornstein No matter what the rank of the women, she is dealt with primarily as a wife who must show complete obedience and humility to her husband […] Chastity, piety, obedience, and humility are the virtues that are stressed
Jan Kott The theme of King Lear is the decay and fall of the world. […] But unlike the Histories and tragedies, in King Lear the world is not healed again
James R. Keller The malcontent is a character who specifically represents the political disaffection of the late sixteenth century, who is embittered because he has suffered a demotion in social or political position or because he has been thwarted in his attempts to attain the rewards of which he deems himself worthy
J.H Plumb The Prince (a political treatise written in 1520 by Nicolo Machiavelli) lays it down as a major premise that men in general are selfish, treacherous, cowardly, greedy, and above all, gullible and stupid
Jonathan Dollimore a play about power, property and inheritance […] a catastrophic redistribution of power and property
Fintan O’Toole The play King Lear is a struggle between traditional bonds and duties and the question ‘how much?’