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The history of King Lear and his three daughters is an old British legend.
In his interpretation Shakespeare takes different sources; the main character is supposed to be taken from "The True Chronicle History of King Leir". It is very odd for Shakespeare’s way of writing that the plot changes so abrupt and all of a sudden. He abridges and concentrates the main plot and develops the material of a relatively irrelevant play into a tragedy, that is in order to convey a message about the last things of the human existence and his dangerous situation.
This aspect could be shown in the end of his tragedy: The source material tells about the return of Leir to his throne in order to reign over England whereas Shakespeare makes the event more aggressive, especially by describing the death of our protagonist Lear and his beloved daughter Cordelia.

In the structure of the appearance of the different characters and their dialogues, Shakespeare does not only try to deal with subjects or topics that are bound up to the act, like the problem of getting old, the relation father - children, the position of the king towards his nation and so on, he is including larger complexes of problems.
These are among other things: Human self - knowledge and self - deception, cognition and madness, true and wrong values, the relation of individual and society, love and hate (of course), idealism, egoism and materialism, wealth and poverty, justice and arbitrariness.

Beside this, the hero of this tragedy "King Lear" takes a very important part in Shakespeare’s works. If we read Hamlet or Macbeth, we won’t forget by reaching the disastrous ending that the hero is jointly responsible of all.
The fatal weakness in Hamlet, the error in Othello and the injustice in Macbeth are in the end obvious.
But that doesn’t fit to "Lear". By reaching the end, the old king was a long time passive. Shakespeare shows a suffering and hardly an acting human being. His suffering was moreover that cruelty, and our indignation towards those persons who had caused this, was that deep, that one is forgetting about the injustice Lear performed to Cordelia, Kent and his Royal Kingdom. That’s why it remains unremarked that it was Lear, who produced the "storm", through his own way of acting.

King Lear

Jester Kent

Goneril Cordelia Regan

Duke of Albany King of France Duke of Cornwall

Earl of Gloucester

Edmund Edgar ("Poor Toms")

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