King Lear Critics

Lamar “The education and purification of Lear”
Wilson ‘To Edmund, Goneril, Regan and Cornwall nature is a force encouraging the individual to think only of the fulfilment of their own desire’
Genesis The world came out of nothing
Danby ‘A play dramatising the meaning of the single word nature’
Harold Bloom “For those who believe that divine justice somehow prevails in this world, King Lear ought to be offensive.”
Johnson “A play in which the wicked prosper and the virtuous miscarry”– it is debatable who the wicked and virtuous actually are
Sun “Under his clothes, the King is equal to the beggar”
Isaac Asamov “of course, is the great secret of the successful fool – that he is no fool at all.’- In his Guide to Shakespeare
Dollimore “the Gods are at best callously just…at worst sadistically vindictive”
Elton Cordelia is “defined as a Christ-like figure, therefore her downfall is a direct representation of a God-less society”
Hudson Goneril and Regan are “personifications of ingratitude”
Paul Delany See Edmund typifying the new bourgeois ethic of individual materialism- MARXIST
Hare “One must be poor to be rich, a fool to be wise and blind to see”
Schlegel “The principle characters are not those who act, but those who suffer”
Coleridge on Edmund “Edmund is the main agent”
Coleridge on Lear Lear’s madness an ‘eddy without progression’
Lamb “A happy ending! As if the living martyrdom that Lear has gone through, the flaying of his feelings alive, did not make a fair dismissal from the stage of life the only decorous thing for him’
AC Bradley on Lear ‘The Redemption of Lear to attain through apparently hopeless failure the very end and aim of life’
AC Bradley Character and plot interdependent
G Wilson Knight ‘humour which treads the brink of tears’
G Wilson Knight on Lear ‘if Lear could laugh there would be no tragedy’
Enid Wellesford ‘the simplicity of a morality play’
R B Heilman ‘the children as a group represent the conflicting characteristics of the father’
B Everett Christian allegorical interpretation takes the play’s statement without reference to the plot….Cordelia as Christ
Pascal “La grandeur de l’homme en ce qu’il se connait miserable”
John Holloway “the end of the world in Elizabethan values; a potentiality to chaos in the world of Nature’
John Holloway on the ending ‘love is finite and inadequate…love as duty’
John Holloway on human nature “If the play advances a positive, I think it is that when men turn away from how they should live, there are forces in life which constrain them to return’
N Frye “do not merely seek his death but his annihilation”
J Kott “‘King Lear’ makes a mockery of all systems of values: both Medieval and Renaissance values disintegrate.”
J Kott on Gloucester “Gloucester is Everyman” – importance of the journey motif