“King Lear Is a Play Whose Full Meaning Cannot Be Comprehended Because Different Directors Bring Such Different Perspectives to the Text”

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All texts can be read and understood, interpreted and represented in many different ways according to the views of the responder and their context. Many different interpretations of “King Lear” have been made, each valuing and highlighting different aspects and themes of the play. It is necessary for these interpretations to be made and adapted in order for “King Lear” to have relevance within the context of the society. Each interpretation of the text extracts and concentrates on certain ideas, issues, themes, values of the play, altering the way the play is received amongst audiences and critics.

Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear can be interpreted in many ways and many responses. The imprecision’s and complication of the play has led to its many production. Interpreting the issues and ideas in King Lear is dependant upon each individual responder. Individuals may be influenced by their own personal experiences, moral and ethical standards and the situation of their time.

The play explores and examines the underlying nature and basic faults of humanity like self-indulgence. Because of the plays conflict of issues, it can consistently be reshaped and analysed to suit current times. Because of this, different meanings are constantly produced.

Absurdist Version.

Peter Brook 1971 – with Paul Scofield as Lear

Who thought Lear to be “A prime example of the absurd”? Comments on how twentieth century critics often try to put King Lear.

Brooks’ Produced an absurdist interpretation which come to life a state of moral lack of involvement but still retained textual truth, this forced responders to make their own interpretations of the play. Brooks used traditional Shakespearean techniques in this early production to convey his absurdist interpretation; this meant no differential lighting or computerised sound effects.

The viewer is captured by Brook’s method in the opening scene. The changeable use of voice by the actor in this production was used to show his volatile character. Critics of this early play comment on the straight-faced that Lear conveys while asking the question “which one of you, shall we say, doth love us most?” The replies from Gonerill and Regan are given an absurdist notion by the bizarre over-reactions. Their realistic language is contrasted to their two-faced body language.

The plot of the play, from confusion to order was designed in similarity with the set. The stage gradually worn out until during the last scene it spears as an earthquake had struck. Lear’s costume also deteriorated at the same time with his character. He began the play in rich robe that distinguishes him as King however later his costume changed to leather and boots and by the last scene he was dressed in rags. This erosion of appearance conveys quick emotional, mental break down. Also Lear’s frustrated and dissatisfied facial expression made this more suggestive to the audiences own explanation.

The storm scene in King Lear is one of the most involving scenes the play. During this scene Shakespeare gives the storm as a personality and it echoes Lear’s inner confusion. It allows Lear to grow a sense of human weakness and humbleness. Brook’s interpretation of the storm scene remains consistent with his simple Shakespearean techniques. Wobble boards and symbols are used for thunder and lightning. Brook prefers to focus on the use of language and acting skills to convey Lear’s inner confusion. The neutral colours of Peter Brook’s set highlight the deathly nature of his belief. He must make the most of the effectiveness of Shakespeare’s language and form to reveal to the audience Lear’s decline into humility. This is evident when Lear shouts with and showing his emotion with body language “here I stand your slave!”

Marxist / Nhilistic Reading–

Grigori Kozintsev 1970 – with Yuri Yarvet as Lear

This Russian interpretation provides a larger level of firm meaning than Peter Brook’s absurdist production....
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