Interpretations Can Shift with Time and Place. King Lear.

English extended response

‘Interpretations of texts can shift and change with time and place’

‘King Lear’ the tragedy written by William Shakespeare can be viewed many ways, as interpretations shift with time and place. Thus how issues that were significant in the 17th century have little or no importance in contemporary society. Some interpretations and themes of this can be seen throughout the play through the issues that arise and the struggles taken place.

In William Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ it is set in the early 17th century where problems that were faced then have little significance today. One issue that arises is when Edmund an illegitimate son of noblemen Gloucester deceives and schemes because of ill treatment, all because of his illegitimate status. He exclaims, “Now, gods stand up for bastards!” as he sets of one part of the play into peril. While this would have been the juicy plot line in Elizabethan times, today illegitimacy is not important and you wouldn’t even know if your fellow peer is a bastard or not. Family is also of importance in this play and is interpretive as an ignition to the tragedy of ‘King Lear’. As Lear’s fails his family by not seeing the true face of his daughters Goneril and Regan he also disturbs the natural order sending the play into turmoil.

Another themes interpretation that is perceived differently in contemporary society is the idea of the supernatural and the elements affects on driving Lear insane. In the 17th century the supernatural was important and affected the daily life of one. Floods, plagues, etc. were all caused by a disruption in the natural order or chain of being. King Lear was supposed to maintain this order so when he fails his responsibility an unnatural storm occurs.   Some interpretations see that the ‘unnatural’ storm is actually a representation of Lear going mad with a knight explaining Lear’s whereabouts as “One minded like weather, unquietly” with William Shakespeare using pathetic...