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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 adultapproaching it for the first time your experience will be special TheseIf there was ever a historical King Lear his memory has faded intomythology Llyr and his son Manannan are Celtic ocean-godsManannan reappeared in Yeatss plays and the Dungeons andDragons games The children of Lir Llyr were transformed intoLegend remembered Lear as a pre-Christian warrior king in what is nowsouthwest England This area now includes Cornwall origin of cornishgame hens In the old story Lear asked his three daughters whetherthey loved him Two claimed to do so extravagantly while the third said she loved him only as a daughter should Leardisinherited the honest daughter The story appears elsewhere in world folklore there is an Eastern European versionin which the honest daughter says she loves her father as much as she loves salt Lear went to live with his firstdaughter bringing a hundred followers She demanded that he reduce his followers to fifty Lear then went to live withthe other daughter who reduced the number to twenty-five Lear went back and forth between the daughters until hewas alone Then the third daughter raised an army defeated the other two and restored him to his kingdom Thestory appears in Holinshed who adds that Cordelia succeeded her father as monarch and was deposed by the sonsof her sisters This tale about how actions speak louder than words had recently been played on the London stage inThe True Chronicle of King Leir We have seen the essential story once again in the Japanese Ran and morerecently in A Thousand Acres an intelligent feminist tale with the two older daughters as incest survivors who havespent their lives cajoling a crazy abusive father and protecting their youngest sister A bit of the fourth act made it intothe Beatles Magical Mystery Tour for some reasonShakespeare
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