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King Lear: General Introduction

The epic tragedy, King Lear, has often been regarded as Shakespeare's greatest masterpiece, if not the crowning achievement of any dramatist in Western literature. This introduction to King Lear will provide students with a general overview of the play and its primary characters, in addition to selected essay topics. Studying a Shakespearean play deepens students' appreciation for all literature and facilitates both their understanding of themes and symbolism in literary works and their recognition of effective characterization and stylistic devices.

Dozens of versions of the tale of old Lear were readily available to Shakespeare and shaped the main plot of his own drama. However, it is clear that Shakespeare relied chiefly on King Leir, fully titled The True Chronicle History of King Leir, and his three daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella, the anonymous play published twelve years before the first recorded performance of Shakespeare's King Lear. Exploring what changes Shakespeare made to the drama is an excellent way to gain a full understanding of King Lear.

How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. King Lear General Introduction. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. < >.

Related Resources

 King Lear: The Complete Play and Fast Facts
 King Lear: Analysis by Act and Scene
 Aesthetic and Textual Examination Questions on King Lear

 Blank Verse in King Lear
 King Lear Lecture Notes and Study Topics
 The First Publication of King Lear

 The Fool in King Lear and his Function in the Play
 The Shakespeare Sisterhood: Cordelia
 The Condition of Lear's Mind
 Goneril: Physically, Intellectually, and Morally

 Difficult Passages in King Lear
 Scene-by-Scene Questions on King Lear with Answers
 King Lear Summary
 King Lear Essay Topics
 King Lear Character Introduction

 Sources for King Lear
 Representations of Nature in Shakespeare’s King Lear
 King Lear: FAQ
 Famous Quotations from King Lear

 Pronouncing Shakespearean Names
 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Metaphors and Similes

 Shakespeare's Reputation in Elizabethan England
 Shakespeare's Impact on Other Writers
 Why Study Shakespeare?

 What is Tragic Irony?
 Characteristics of Elizabethan Drama
Lear and Cordelia, Act V, Scene III. From the painting by Sir J. Noel Paton.