Monday, March 4, 2013

Book #5: King Lear

I know I didn't do a book review for my fourth book. Maybe I'll write about it later. But right now, I'm talking about King Lear.
King Lear is apparently regarded as Shakespeare's greatest tragedy. I don't know what to think about this. It was certainly good, but I don't think it was great, and I'll tell you why.
I liked the premise of the play. A senile King wants to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, and decides who he's going to give his land. He does this by asking his daughters to show him their lover for him by flattering him and one of the daughters refuses, because, you know, that's not what love is. He ends up banishing her and banishing his dearest friend Kent for standing up for her. Over time he starts to realize who really loves and he also looses his mind at the same time.
So I don't have problems with the characters and how they change, though I did think it was gross when Regan and her Cornwall were clawing out Gloucester's eyes. It's the ending that needs work.
Everybody dies.
Now I realize that this is a Shakespeare tragedy, so everyone has to die. But I didn't like the way that they died, and I didn't like the reasons that were given for their deaths. In the fifth act, when everyone's dying, someone comes in to tell Lear that Regan died, and then moments later, Goneril commits suicide, and it's just very fast and I don't like it. Lear dies from a heart attack, which, is probably the most understandable of all of the deaths, because he's old. But then Gloucester dies for the same reason, which is lame. The suicides are just strange because Goneril didn't need to commit suicide. Sure, she just had poisoned her sister, but she also did some very mean things to Lear, so I don't exactly think that she died because she realized she was in the wrong and was too grief-stricken or something. But she just dies. Edgar kills Edmund and that's fine, because Edmund deserved it, but then there's this weird moment when Edmund tries to save Lear and Cordelia. This, like Goneril's suicide, doesn't make any sense, because it's not like he repented or anything. He, like Goneril, is too evil.
And then, after everyone's dead, Albany (Goneril's husband) asks Kent if he would like to rule the kingdom with him, but he declines and says that he's going to commit suicide too so he can be with his master. So the only people left are Albany and Edgar. Two out of 15 people in the story survived. Seems like over kill. Shakespeare really does like to kill people. And I guess I don't mind it as long as he gives a good reason, and in this play, he didn't.

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