King Lear Critical Opinions

Marxist criticism. a Marxist approach to King Lear would consider it to be a reflection of the political and economic structures of the society in which it was written.
Feminist Approach A feminist approach to the play would look at the way in which male attitudes to women have shaped the depiction of female characters and how they behave in the drama (Lear’s attitudes to his three daughters, focusing on the way his expectations of them are different to a father’s expectations of sons)
Sigmund Freud ‘Let us now recall the moving final scene, one of the culminating points of tragedy in modern drama. Lear carries Cordelia’s dead body on to the stage. Cordelia is Death … She is the Death-goddess who … bids the old man renounce love, choose death and make friends with the necessity of dying.’
George Orwell ‘Throughout his plays the acute social critics, the people who are not taken in by accepted fallacies, are buffoons, villains, lunatics or persons who are shamming insanity or are in a state of violent hysteria. Lear is a play in which this tendency is particularly well marked. It contains a great deal of veiled social criticism – a point Tolstoy misses – but it is all uttered either by the Fool, by Edgar when he is pretending to be mad, or by Lear during his bouts of madness.’
Martha Burns ‘It is all too easy to dismiss Regan and Goneril, King Lear’s elder daughters, as mere emblems of female evil – the demonic opposites of their saintly younger sister, Cordelia. But Shakespeare’s characters are seldom that simple … When women are tough and ballsy, and just as obsessed with power as men, they are called evil rather than formidable. Regan and Goneril are formidable.’
John Donnelly ‘With no male character in the drama does Lear have a good relationship, for Kent is banished and Gloucester does not seem close to him. All his affection is centered on his daughters and this appears to be linked with a latent incestuous orientation.’

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