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Speak what we feel not what we ought to say -- Edgar If you are a student assigned to read or see King Lear or an adult approaching it for the first time your experience will be special These notes will help you get started If there was ever a historical King Lear his memory has faded into mythology Llyr and his son Manannan are Celtic ocean-gods Manannan reappeared in Yeatss plays and the Dungeons and Dragons games The children of Lir Llyr were transformed into waterbirds in another Celtic myth Legend remembered Lear as a pre-Christian warrior king in what is now southwest England This area now includes Cornwall origin of cornish game hens In the old story Lear asked his three daughters whether they loved him Two claimed to do so extravagantly while the third said she loved him only as a daughter should Lear disinherited the honest daughter The story appears elsewhere in world folklore there is an Eastern European version in which the honest daughter says she loves her father as much as she loves salt Lear went to live with his first daughter bringing a hundred followers She demanded that he reduce his followers to fifty Lear then went to live with the other daughter who reduced the number to twenty-five Lear went back and forth between the daughters until he was alone Then the third daughter raised an army defeated the other two and restored him to his kingdom The story appears in Holinshed who adds that Cordelia succeeded her father as monarch and was deposed by the sons of her sisters This tale about how actions speak louder than words had recently been played on the London stage in The True Chronicle of King Leir We have seen the essential story once again in the Japanese Ran and more recently in A Thousand Acres an intelligent feminist tale with the two older daughters
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