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Theological Consequences in King Lear Shakespeares King Lear is not primarily a theological text It contains no direct references to Christ and its characters are not overtly religious except perhaps in a strictly pagan sense King Lear is however a play that seeks out the meaning of life a play that attempts to come to terms with lifes pain or rather plummets the reader into such a storm of chaos and meaninglessness that any preconceived meaningful assumptions must necessarily be challenged At the time in which Shakespeare wrote amidst the recent activity of the Reformation the assumptions the general public took into a theater were varied but more often than not within some context of Christian thought As Shakespeare was undoubtedly aware interpretation of the play would necessarily be set in Christian context Even anti-Christian interpretation would be considered to be a Christian context in that it is reactionary The question arises as to whether or not Shakespeare intentionally or not has emphasized one strain of Christian thought while denouncing another Or in this play without any obvious redemption has Shakespeare denounced Christianity altogether I do not think he has gone to this extreme but has instead challenged Christian interpretation as a whole As we shall see the distinction between Christianity and Christian interpretation is crucial For my premise that Shakespeare and his audience were in some way effected by the Christian thought of the day I am indebted to Stephen Lynch who has researched the evidence for this position in a chapter from his Shakespearean Intertextualities entitled English Reformations in King Leir and King Lear Within the chapter Lynch explores possibilities in theological interpretations of the play in light of its predecessor King Leir It is Lynchs contention that Shakespeares Lear is reactionary to certain Calvinistic implications communicated in Leir Shakespeares negation of Leirs theological values are not however a necessary affirmation of a different theological stance It might be the
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