An Introduction of King Lear

Tragedy in five acts by William Shakespeare, performed in 1605–1606 and published in a quarto edition in 1608, from an inadequate transcript of foul papers, with use made of a reported version. The First Folio version was prepared from the quarto collated with a promptbook of a shortened version. One of Shakespeare's finest tragedies, the work displays a pessimism and nihilism that make it a modern favorite.
As one of the Four Great Tragedies in Shakespeare’s dramas, King Lear tells a story that a king decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, allotting each a portion in proportion to the eloquence of her declaration of love. The hypocritical Goneril and Regan make grand pronouncements and are rewarded; Cordelia, the youngest daughter, who truly loves Lear, refuses to make an insincere speech to prove her love. And the king foolishly divides his kingdom between his scheming two oldest daughters but estranges himself from the daughter who truly loves him. So begins this profoundly moving and disturbing tragedy that, perhaps more than any other work in literature, challenges the notion of a coherent and just universe. The two older sisters mock Lear and renege on their promise to support him. Cast out, the king slips into madness and wanders about accompanied by his faithful Fool. Then he is aided by the Earl of Kent, who, though banished from the kingdom for having supported Cordelia, has remained in Britain disguised as a peasant, Kent eventually brings Lear to Cordelia, who cares for him and helps him regain his reason. The subplot concerns the Earl of Gloucester, who likewise spurns his honest son, Edgar, and believes his conniving illegitimate son, Edmund. Edmund allies himself with Regan and Goneril to defend Britain against the French army mobilized by Cordelia. He turns his father over to Cornwall—who gouges out Gloucester's eyes—then imprisons Cordelia and Lear, but he is defeated in battle by Edgar. Jealous of Edmund's romantic...