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Word Count: 3,750
King Lear is acknowledged to be one of the great tragedies in literature and the finest of Shakespeares tragedies To go into it deeply is a stimulating and exciting intellectual experience and a closer acquaintance with the play opens up insights not just into the life the life and times of Shakespeare but because of the plays universality applies to every time period climate nation into everyday life here and now We have various themes interspersed throughout the play including rash decisions blind stubbornness sincerity hypocrisy flattery filial devotion loyalty betrayal and treachery unconditional and disinterested Cordelia love and devotion All these themes fit in the world of today as they did in Shakespeares times and that is why the play has a great universal significance The plot itself is quite straightforward The old king wanting to shake off the burdens of ruling his kingdom proposes to split it up and give a third to each of his three daughters Before putting this plan into effect he asks each of them in turn to tell him how much each of them loves him Two take the safe way using flattery and giving fulsome declarations of their love for him the third Cordelia in her sincerity and bluntness enrages him by speaking only of the love she owes him as a daughters duty to her father Consequently she loses her share of the kingdom and this is shared out between the other two Very soon Lear finds that his two elder daughters abuse their power and drive him out After an angry encounter Lear leaves them deciding to go out to the desolate heat in the stormy night and his suffering turns his mind Cordelia who has married the generous and disinterested King of France after he has accepted her without a dowry hears of his plight and comes with a French army to retrieve him and nurse him back to sanity Her army is
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