the tragedy of king lear

The Signs As Shakespearian Insults
  • Aries: Thou art like a toad; ugly and venomous.
  • Taurus: Thou art a flesh-monger, a fool and a coward.
  • Gemini: Foot-licker!
  • Cancer: Methinks’t thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.
  • Leo: I desire we may be better strangers.
  • Libra: Thou damned and luxurious mountain goat.
  • Scorpio: The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.
  • Sagittarius: Thou mis-shapen dick!
  • Capricorn: Peace, ye fat guts!
  • Aquarius: You mouldy rogue
  • Pisces: A fusty nut with no kernel.
  • Virgo: Thou art a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver'd, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mungril bitch.

It’s Shakespeare week!

Strangely the essay I wrote delirious in the early hours of Monday morning turned out to be the best I have written yet (according to my supervisor haha) - who’d have thought it?

Yesterday was ridiculously busy. I was dreading having both a dissertation supervision + a tragedy supervision within two hours of one another, but surprisingly I felt so uplifted after both of them. Well, uplifted and exhausted (I was in bed by 9pm).

I met my dissertation supervisor for the first time yesterday, and she is so great - I’m actually really excited to get stuck into work for it now that I have been reassured that the ideas I have are good and interesting.

But yes - for the next 3 weeks we will be looking into what it means to study ‘Shakespearean Tragedy’. This week it’s the 'Big Four’: Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello & King Lear. Due to the awful weather outside I’ve decided to have a Girton library day - hope everyone has a wonderful day!

- Sarah xoxo

We remember: ‘Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia, the gods themselves throw incense’ (v. iii. 20). Or do they laugh, and is the Lear universe one ghastly piece of fun?
We do not feel that. The tragedy is most poignant in that it is purposeless, unreasonable. It is the most fearless artistic facing of the ultimate cruelty of things in our literature.
—  G. Wilson Knight, “King Lear and the Comedy of the Grotesque,” The Wheel of Fire
  • Looks like a comedy and is a comedy: As You Like It, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night
  • Looks like a comedy but is actually kind of a tragedy: Merchant of Venice, Taming of the Shrew, possibly Much Ado About Nothing
  • Looks like a tragedy and is a tragedy: Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Coriolanus
  • Looks vaguely tragic but might be a comedy: Cymbeline, the puppet show version of Titus Andronicus
Bates Motel is basically a Shakespearean tragedy at this point. Like, yeah, you go see Hamlet or King Lear but, ultimately, you get how this shit at all ends. And it does not end well. It’s simply all about counting down to the doom.

Dylan sincerely trying to assure everyone that “it will all be OK in the end” and perhaps honestly believing it is truly one of the saddest images on TV, ever, though.

That poor guy.

He did not trust Shakespeare. Tragedy had always terrified him with its blunt, raw stops and starts, its elegant language and bloody endings and calm revivals. A sense of apocalypse followed by an ordinary morning. Horatio and Fortinbras playing chess in a drafty, velvet-hung room, yawning and patient, good men left over to fight a good fight, ignorant enough to survive. And there was always a Cassio left over, bruised but energetic, and Kent dazed with the past but optimistic enough to take on the future, the long rise of history. He leafed through the book, not letting his eyes linger too long on anything: ‘But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter;/ Or rather a disease that’s in my flesh…’ 'Hang him instantly. Pluck out his eyes…’ 'My sickness grows upon me…’ Making so much out of death! So much out of life! He felt a little sick himself, closing the book. No, it did no good. It was pointless to think about death, about life. Getting through the day… The day was a part of the enormous, indecipherable granite block of his life, which he had to chip at, chew at, tease and plead with, having no instruments sharp or powerful enough to do what another man might do with one blow; love, sex, money… The future. But at least his car worked, it started at least–wasn’t that a good omen? A chip the size of a splinter off that great granite block, a tombstone of a block with his name on it: the car starting this morning.
—  Joyce Carol Oates, them (1969), III, 2