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Context Surrounding King Lear Notes

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Biographical Context
 1568 Shakespeare's father became Stratford's town mayor where he applied for a coat of arms but did not proceed with this application, Shakespeare himself went to pains to be awarded the title of 'gentlemen' in 1596Act 3 Scene 6- 'sees his son a gentlemen before him'
 Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway in November 1582 when she was 4 months pregnant. A special license was necessary as there were closed marriage seasons- Make sure his own children were not illegitimate
 Religion
 Shakespeare's parents (father fined for refusal to attend protestant services) were Catholic, and his teachers at the Kings New School in Stratford
 Robert Debdale, a fellow pupil was arrested and executed

  Venerable English College in Rome placed their pilgrim's book into an exhibition in 2009, William the scholar from Stratford had signed one of the books
  Difficulties in being openly catholic, knowledge of the Geneva Bible, the baptism of his own children and his burial at the protestant Holy Trinity church in Stratford suggest he was a 'tolerant Anglican'
  He was interested in the dramatic revelation and discussion of controversial ideas rather than yet another set of dogmatic paradigms

 Quorto's and the Folio

-Most modern editors retain the Q ending to Act 3 Scene 7 not found in F, showing the remaining two servants discussing the cruelty of Regan and Cornwall after they have blinded Gloucester e.g Rowse
-Reinforces the audiences hope in a restorative humanity after the sadism of Cornwall and Regan
 Sources of Influence

-Samuel Harsnett's- A Declaration of Egregious Popish impostures(1603)- Used un the creation of the mad person Poor Tom
-Harsnett's pamphlet was printed on the orders of the Privy Council as part of a propaganda war against Catholicism
-Intended to draw attention Jesuit priests bogus exorcisms and to people like Edgar feigned the symptoms of madness and demonic possession to gain sympathy and money
-Mentions Shakespeare's school-fellow Robert Debdale and Thomas Cottam who were both executed
-Much of Edgar's babble- 'Prince of Darkness', 'Smulkin', 'Foul Fiend' etc. are taken directly from Popish Impostures
-Montaigne's Essays- Showed his hatred for human pride (hubris)
-Writes 'the weakness of our judgements helps us more than our strengths' and 'our blindness more than our clear-sightedness'

 -G.C. Taylor in Shakespeare's debt to Montaigne records 23 passages that echo King Leir- 1605 play is about a straightforward civil war between Cornwall and Cambria quelled by the King Of Gallilia
-Manipulation of other sources reveal his capacious reading and quicksilver skills of alchemical synthesis Performance Context
-Discontent and religious anxiety concerning Cordelia's death and the play's alleged dark paganism and Nahum Tate finally re-wrote the ending in 1681
-Theme if love between Cordelia and Edgar and Lear and Cordelia were reconciled and lived happily ever after
-Romanticism changed this ending in the 18th century ( influenced by Charles Lamb and William Hazlitt) by Edmund Kean but he still kept the love scenes and excluded the fool

-Brian Annelsley- Wealthy Kentishman and elderly gentleman pensioner of Queen Elizabeth had 3 daughters

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