Old School Sundays: Shakespeare’s “King Lear”

I’ve decided that for the next five Sundays…or at least until the new year, I’m going to dedicate my Old School Sunday posts to The Bard, himself, William Shakespeare.

I debated this at first–wondered if my readers would even be interested in Shakespearean wisdom. But then I thought, well everyone ought to! So here it is…

“It’s good to be the King…” Jose → in Church & Cemetery

I read King Lear in college. Such a powerful story of hubris followed by a complete unraveling. After all, isn’t a mental breakdown usually an appropriate punishment for excessive pride? Doesn’t it always follow? At least in literature.

I’ve been amazed by Lear’s pomposity, and impressed by his lovely daughter Cordelia’s earnest answer of ‘Yes, father, I love you, but not anymore than I should.’ There’s nothing more drastic to the ears of the grandiose than the good old, honest truth.

There are many memorable lines I could pull from this play. But there was always something about this one that I could relate to my life on a number of different situations.

In Act 4 Scene 1, Edgar, Gloucester’s legitimate is disguised as Poor Tom. Right before the old man leads his recently blinded father onto the stage, Edgar reflects on the horrific nature of situation. He discovers, though, that it’s perhaps not as bad as it could be:

“And worse I may be yet: the worst/is not/So long as we can say ‘This is the worst'” (4.1 29-30).

Being from New Jersey, I can attest that the recent storm, Hurricane Sandy, was perhaps the ‘worst’ our state has ever seen. We lost our favorite vacation spots. Many of us lost heat and power. Some (too many) lost their homes. Some lost family members. Others lost pets. We waited on long lines for gasoline, something, we all learned, we’d taken for granted.

But we’re “Jersey Strong” and resilient. And we’re all aware of the fact that we’re damn lucky we can still say that Sandy was the worst storm in our history. Because if it was truly the worst…we might not be around to even suggest it.

See? We can all learn a thing or two from Shakespeare.

Stay tuned for more next week!

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Old School Sundays: Shakespeare’s “King Lear”

  1. Shakespeare is rich with great lessons and material for writing posts. I look forward to reading more, as I like the connection made between Shakespeare’s themes and modern living/news.

  2. I like to drop by for your “Old School” musings. Shakespeare touches on universal themes and remains relevant! I have another blogger friend who’s in Jersey. She was right there in Cape May but said the sand dunes saved their area.

    • Thanks Terri–so glad to hear you enjoy them! I spent nearly all my childhood summers in Cape May–and yes, it’s true, the town didn’t get hit as badly as some others…thank goodness for me. That place is like my sanctuary on earth.

  3. Of course I’m interested in Shakespearean wisdom!
    The sign of a great story is that it has relevance in all kinds of situations, so great work on bringing this one home. Haven’t read King Lear yet, but I have a copy of The Tempest (you can probably guess why 😉 ) in my to-read pile!

  4. Pingback: Very Inspiring Blogger Award | lovely story reviews

  5. “King Lear” was always one of my favorites. I’ll look forward to the rest of your Bard posts.

  6. I always felt that Shakespeare was over my head so I appreciate you breaking a little of it down into smaller, understandable bits!

  7. Pingback: King Lear-ing « Dreambles

  8. Pingback: Anniversary: King Lear First recorded play - Yareah Magazine | Yareah Magazine

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