(From PBS) King Lear is universally acknowledged as one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragic roles. Ian McKellen and Simon Russell Beale share their insights into this often-difficult character. And Christopher Plummer examines what inspired Shakespeare to write a play about a kingdom divided – at a delicate moment when a new King (James) from Scotland was trying to create what has become the “united kingdom.”
We learn how the storm scenes might have been produced at Shakespeare’s own theater, and how they represent the storm going on in Lear’s mind. The pain he endures is so intense that Shakespeare’s version of the story was soon rewritten with a happy ending; at the Globe, we see this alternate ending acted out. Then we return to the real play and its heart-breaking tragedy of old age. One of Shakespeare’s later plays, its ending may reflect something of his own mature cynicism. The powers of good fail and the gods do not prevent the deaths of Lear and Cordelia. But Plummer finds that beneath the cosmic emptiness, the possibility of love survives.
This guide has 25 viewing questions in fill-in-the blank format that serves a notes. An answer key is provided. This is perfect for pre-teaching the play or for reviewing the play before a test. It can be found on YouTube, the PBS website, and other places.
Key words: AP English Language, AP English Literature, 9th Grade Literature, British Literature, rhetoric, drama, love, Shakespeare, violence, tradition, wisdom, World History, Social Studies, King Lear