Adelman, Janet, ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of King Lear. Englewood Cliffs,  NJ: Prentice-Hall,              1978.

Colie, Rosalie L. and F. T. Flahiff. Some Facets of King: Essays in Prismatic Criticism. Toronto: Toronto UP,              1974.

Danson, Lawrence, ed.. On King Lear. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1981.

Muir, Kenneth, ed. King Lear: Critical Essays. New York and London: Garland, 1984.

Ryan, Kiernan, ed. King Lear: New Casebooks. New York: St. Martin's, 1992.

Young, David, ed. Shakespeare's Middle Tragedies: A Collection of Critical Essays.   Englewood Cliffs, NJ:          Prentice-Hall, 1993.

Primary Materials:

Barber, C. L. "On Christianity and the Family: Tragedy of the Sacred." Adelman, 117-119.

Play dramatizes Lear's need for a maternal presence, satisfied in the past by worship of the Madonna in the context of the holy family.

Battenhouse, Roy W. "Moral Experience and Its Typology in King Lear." Shakspearean Tragedy: Its Art and         Its Christian Premises. Bloomington, IN: IU Press, 1969.

The play's many echoes of biblical stories and Christian doctrine suggest that Shakespeare envisioned it as a warning to an age pervaded by the decay of Christian values.

Boose, Lynda E. "The Father and the Bride." PMLA 97 (1982): 325-47, Young, 207-220.

By trying to maintain public control over his daughter, Lear brings about tragic chaos.

Booth, Stephan. "On the Greatness of King Lear," Adelman, 98-113.

A subtle and complex analysis of the play's ending leads him to conclude that "the greatness of the play derives from the confrontation it makes with inconclusiveness. . . ."

Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy. 3rd ed. London: Macmillan, 1992, in Muir, 31-54.

Despite its dramatic deficiences, play brings about a confrontation between good and evil; Lear's suffering leads to his spiritual regeneration.

Campbell, Oscar James. "The Salvation of Lear." ELH 15 (1948): 93-109.

Argues that Lear's suffering is purgatorial and allows him to realize the full dimensions of his own humanity.

Carroll, William C. "The Base Shall Top Th'Legitimate": The Bedlam Beggar and the Role of Edgar in King         Lear. Shakespeare Quarterly 38 (1987), Young, 221-238.

Examines Edgar's role in the play, in which he both performs and experiences the role of suffering and marginalizaton in the play.

Cavell, Stanley. "The Avoidance of Love: A Reading of King Lear," in Adelman, 70-87.

Lear's own shame, his desperate need to be loved, leads him to avoid any expression of real love from Cordelia.

Champion, Larry S. "Shakespeare from Elizabethan to Jacobean." Tragic Patterns inJacobean and Carolina           Drama. Knoxville: Tennessee UP, 1977, 1961.

King Lear marks Shakespeare's movement from an Elizabethan perspective, in which decisions arise more from the impulses of the central figure, and a Jacobean one, in which they arise more from the manipulations and desires of others.

Clemen, Wolfgang H. "King Lear." The Development of Shakespeare's Imagery.Cambridge, MA:                        Harvard UP, 1951: 133-153.

Lear's progress can be traced through its image patterns--from his great apostrophes to elemental forces, to the visions of the sins of the earth, to the peaceful, gentle imagery of his reconciliation with Cordelia, and finally to the vision of gigantic and powerful nature at the moment of her death.

Danby, John F. Shakespeare's Doctrine of Nature: A Study of King Lear. London:   Faber and Faber, 1948,         exerpted in Adelman, "Edmund and the Two Natures," 50-55.

Describes the contrast between the two views of nature expressed in the play.

Delaney, Paul. "King Lear and the Decline of Feudalism." PMLA 92 (1977), 429-440.

This materialist reading of the play argues that it explores the philosophical concepts a nd moral values typically associated with the neocapitalist economy of the Renaissance. The tragic consciousness of the late Renaissance derives from the sense of loss and division when an organic community and a bounded universe are replaced by a collectivity of isolated, free, and equal individuals.

Dollimore, Jonathan. "King Lear and Essentialist Humanism." Radical Tragedy:  Religon, Ideology, and              Power in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries. Second edn. Durham: Duke UP, 1993:              189-203.

This materialist reading suggests that the play is "about power, property and inheritance."

Driscoll, James P. "The Vision of King Lear." Shakespeare Studies 10 (1977): 159-89.

Two basic archetypes in the tragedy are man's struggle through suffering for consciousness and psychic wholeness and his achievement of existential truths about justice and God.

Eagleton, Terry. William Shakespeare. London: Basil Blackwell, 1986, Ryan, "Language and Value in King         Lear," 84-91,

Through painfully rediscovering his own body, and thereby regaining touch with the harsh materiality of things, Lear becomes something by discovering that he is nothing.

Elton, William R. 'King Lear' and the Gods. San Marino, CA: Huntington Library,1966.

The contention that King Lear is an optimistically Christian drama is not supported by an examination of the intellectual milieu of the early seventeenth century.

Everett, Barbara. "The New King Lear." Critical Quarterly 2 (1960): 325-339.

Lear's greatness emerges not from his Christian moral choice, but from the transformation of his suffering into something vital and strong.

Felperin, Howard. Shakespearean Representation: Mimesis and Modernity in Elizabethan Tragedy.                  Princeton: UP, 1977, exerpted in Ryan, "Plays within Plays," 31-47.

At the end of the play, we are left not with a choice or either morality and meaning or madness and absurdity, but more like an ultimatum of neither morality and meaning nor madenss and absurdity.

Goldberg, Jonathan. "Perspectives: Dover Clfif and the Conditions of Representation." Shakespeare and              Deconstruction. Eds. David M. Bergeron and G. Douglas Atkins. New York: Peter Lang, 1988, Ryan, 1             145-157.

In this deconstructive reading, Goldberg argues that the Cliffs of Dover scene between Edgar and Gloucester (4.6) offers an anatomy of the techniques of illusion--verbal and pictorial--upon which Shakespearean theatre depends.

Goldberg, S. L. An Essay on "King Lear." Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1974.

Rather than containing the experience of this play within any single interpretation, be it of idealism, moralism, absurdism, or redemptionist, the spectator of this play is forced to acknowledge his experience of divergent and contradictory realities.

Greenblatt, Stephen. "The Cultivation of Anxiety: King Lear and his Heirs." Learning to Curse: Essays in Early              Modern Culture. London: Routledge, 1990, Ryan, 158-179.

Greenblatt's New Historicist reading connects the profitable and pleasurable anxiety generated by the play to the salutary anxiety generated by practices of child rearing during the Elizabethan period, the Protestant sense of sin, and the practice of royal power during the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods.

Hawkes, Terence. William Shakespeare: King Lear. Plymouth, England: Northcote Publishers, 1995.

Applies principles of cultural materialism and new historicism to a study of the play's meanings.

Heilman, Robert B. This Great Stage: Image and Structure in 'King Lear.' Baton Rouge: Louisana State              UP, 1948.

Lear and Gloucester must come to realize that the egocentric values of the new generation actually are rooted in the arrogance, the indiscriminate action, the complacency, and the loss of equilibrium of the old.

Hennedy, Hugh L. "King Lear: Recognizing the Ending." Studies in Philology 71 (1974): 371-384.

Although there is no hard and fast evidence for the way Lear's last lines should be interpreted, numerous clues do exist that point to a conclusion suggesting hope rather than despair.

Holloway, John. "King Lear." The Story of the Night. Lincoln: Nebraska UP, 1961: 75-98.

Evil in the play, which takes possession of the stage world and reduces man to the level of beasts, finally destroys itself and passes. But rather than good being restored, we are faced with the spectacle of suffering renewing itself until the moment of death.

Jorgensen, Paul A. Lear's Self-Discovery. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966.

Lear eventually comes to perceive the necessity for and meaning of love and the necessity of possessing an identity through his own suffering, his reduction in status, and his philosophic acceptance of unaccommodated man in the naked Edgar.

Kahn, Coppelia. "The Absent Mother in King Lear." Rewriting the Rensaissance. Ed. Margaret Gerguson,          Maureen Quilligan and Nancy Vickers. Chicago: UP, 1986, Ryan, 92-113.

In the patriarchal world of the play, masculine identity depends on repressing the vulnerability, dependency, and capacity for feeling which are called "feminine."

Kettle, Arnold. Literature and Liberation: Selected Essays. Manchester: UP, 1988, Ryan, "The Humanity              of King Lear," 17-30.

Although we may describe Lear's and Gloucester's changes as spiritual ones, we must also recognize that Shakespeare links these changes at every step with actual actions and social attitudes of Shakespeare's day.

Kernan, Alvan. "The True King: Lear." Shakespeare, the King's Playwright: Theater in the Stuart Court,               1603-1613. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1995: 89-105.

Play stands as an implicit critique of James' theory of absolute rule by divine right by presenting as king a far more human and tested figure than James.

*Knight, G. Wilson. The Wheel of Fire: Interpretations of Shakespearean Tragedy.   London: Metheun,                  1930, Muir, "King Lear and the Comedy of the Grotesque," 83-101.

Recurrent stress on the incongruous and fantastic aesthetically heightens the tragedy as we observe humanity tortured and cruelly impaled. Play suggests that stoic endurance brings peace and greater self-knowledge.

Knights, L. C. Some Shakespearean Themes. London: Chatto & Windus, 1959, Muir, "King Lear," 165-187.

Lear, the victim of perverse self-will, must learn that social position and material wealth possess no intrinsic value, that they blind him to the true nature and frailty of "unaccommodated man."

Kott, Jan. "King Lear or Endgame." Shakespeare Our Contemporary. New York: Doubleday, 1964, 127-168.

Like Beckett's Endgame, the play is absurdest drama, mocking the absolutes of gods, nature, destiny, and history.

Mack, Maynard. "We Came Crying Hither": King Lear. Everybody's Shakespeare: Reflections: Chiefly on the              Tragedies. Lincoln and London: Nebraska UP, 1993:  151-181.

A well-known humanist analysis of the play's action, its dramatic world, and its tragic theme, best summarized in the line quoted above.

McFarland, Thomas. "The Image of the Family in King Lear. On King Lear. Ed. Lawrence Danson.                        Princeton,  NJ: Princeton UP: 91-118.

Tension between Lear's two roles in life, one as king with its patina of symbolic paternalism, the other as father to a specific family, generates the tragic situation that rises form the play.

McLuskie, Kathleen, "The Patriarchal Bard: Feminist Criticism and Shakespeare: King Lear, and Measure         for Measure, in Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism. Ed. Johathan Dollimore and          Alan Sinfield. Manchester: UP, 1985, Ryan, 48-59.

This play misogynistically connects sexual insubordination and anarchy.

Marcus, Leah. "Retrospective: King Lear on St. Stephen's Night, 1606," in Puzzling Shakespeare: Local              Reading and its Discontents. Berkeley, CA and London: UC Press, 1988, Ryan, 114-129.

"What are we to make of the fact that the Lear most closely identified with the court of James I is also the Lear with the most potentially damaging references to specific royal policies?"

Matthews, Richard. "Edmund's Redemption in King Lear." Shakespeare Quarterly 26 (1975), 25-29.

Edmund's experience in a small way parallels that of Lear--the movement through pride to personal suffering and finally to the compassion born of love.

Muir, Kenneth and Stanley Wells, eds. Aspects of King Lear: Articles Reprinted from Shakespeare                        Survey.  Cambridge: UP, 1982.

Contains articles on the style, madness, uncertainty, doomsday, catharsis, etc.

Nevo, Ruth. "King Lear." Tragic Form in Shakespeare. Princeton: UP, 1972: 258-305.

The burden of the play is the inadequacy of love to redeem; through Lear suffers he never gains the insight and reconcilation of Job.

Orwell, George. "Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool." The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell.          Ed. Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus. Hammondsworth: Penguin Books, 1970, Muir 119-136.

Patterson, Annabel. Shakespeare and the Popular Voice. London: Basic Blackwell, 1989, Ryan, 130-144.

"Evidentially, the play includes a critique of the authoritarian, patriarchal and constitutionally absolutist theories of James himself, and at the same time reveals the distinction between absolutist theory and its practice, which in King Lear is clearly ineffective."

Peat, Derek. '"And that's true too": King Lear and the Tension of Uncertainty." Shakespeare Survey 33 (1980):          43-53.

After surveying critics on both sides of the question of whether the play makes an affirmation or not. he argues that the ending of the play leaves contrarities unresolved.

Ray, Robert H., ed. Approaches to Teaching Shakespeare's King Lear. New York: MLA, 1986.

Contains articles that approach teaching the play through an emphasis on marriage and the family, archetypes, sight and perception, dramatic structure, Renaissance context, etc.

Roche, Thomas P., Jr. "Nothing Almost Sees Miracles": Tragic Knowledge in King Lear." On King Lear.              Ed. Lawrence Danson. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP: 136-162.

What has Lear learned as a result of his suffering throughout the course of this play?

Rackin, Phyliss. "The Tragedies: King Lear." Shakespeare's Tragedies. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1978:          86-106.

Clothing symbolism suggests that Lear learns pity and wisdom only when stripped and exposed to the storm; reason, like other forms of clothing, must be removed before Lear can ask and answer the ultimate questions about human life.

Rosenberg, John. "King Lear and his Comfoorters." Essays in Criticism 16 (1966): 135-146.

Despire the positive or negative views of many critics, he argues that the play asserts nothing and questions everything.

Ryan, Kiernan. Shakespeare. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1989, Ryan, "King Lear,          The Subersive Imagination," 73-83.

In the play, the assault on the traditional structures of social domination by a ruthlessly competitive and acquisitive individualism is expressed through the generational conflicts which rip the families of Lear and Gloucester apart.

Sewell, Arthur. "Character and Society in King Lear." Character and Society in Shakespeare. Oxford:                  Oxford UP, 1951: 108-121.

Play emphasizes the vital necessity for social order; without it man relapses into self-destructive individualism.

Spencer, Theodore. Shakespeare and the Nature of Man. New York and London: Collier-Macmillan, 1949.

Sets forth in detail and with great clarity the opposing conceptions of nature that seem to lie at the heart of the play's philosophical conflict.

Tennenhouse, Leonard. Power on Display: The Politics of Shakespeare's Genres. London: Metheun,                  1986,  Ryan, "The Theatre of Punishment," 60-72.

By privileging kinship over kingship, Lear produces an unruly state where women can rule men, where daughters can rule their fathers, and where bastards can dispossess the aristocracy. At the play's end, patriarchial power is restored.

Tillyard, E. M. W. The Elizabethan World Picture. London: Chatto and Windus, 1952.

The classic description of the Elizabethan view that all of nature was arranged according to the principles of hierarchy and correspondance.

*Welsford, Enid. The Fool: His Social and Literary History. New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1936, Muir,                  "The Court-Fool in Elizabethan Drama," 103-118.

The Fool is both a commentator whose words furnish important clues to the interpretation of a difficult play and a figure caught up in the drama.



Berry, Ralph. On Directing Shakespeare: Interviews with Contemporary Directors.

London: Croom Helm; New York: Barnes and Noble, 1977.

Brockett, Oscar G. History of the Theatre. 4th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1982.

Bulman, J. C. and H. R. Coursen. Shakespeare on Television: An Anthology of Essays and Reviews.                    Hanover and London: UP of New England, 1988.

Eckert, Charles, ed. Focus on Shakespearean Films. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1972.

Gurr, Andrew. The Shakespearean Stage, 1574-1642. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992.

Jorgens, Jack J. Shakespeare on Film. Bloomington: IU Press, 1977.

Leggett, Alexander. King Lear: Shakespeare in Performance. Manchester and New York: Manchester UP,         1991.

Manvell, Roger. Shakespeare and the Film. London: J. M. Dent, 1971.

Merchant, W. Moelwyn. Shakespeare and the Artist. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1959.

Odell, George Clinton Densmore. Annals of the New York Stage. 15 volumes. New York: Columbia UP,                  1927-49.

Odell, George Clinton Densmore. Shakespeare from Betterton to Irving. 2 volumes.

New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, 1920.

Rothwell, Kenneth S. and Annabelle Henkin Melzer. Shakespeare on Screen. New York: Neal-Schuman, 1990.

Sprague, Arthur Colby. Shakespeare and the Actors: The Stage Business in His Plays (1660-1905).                  Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1944, rptd, New York: Russell and Russell, 1963.

Trewin, John Courtenay. Going to Shakespeare. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1978.

Trewin, John Courtenay. Shakespeare on the English Stage, 1900-1964. London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1964.