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King Lear


William Shakespeare

King Lear
average rating is 3 out of 5

Classics, Plays

R. Alex Jenkins

Shakespeare wrote 10 tragedies. I have suffered through six of them.

They are tragedies for a reason. They introduce strife and suffering into your life through a combination of difficult content and hard to understand dialogue.

King Lear is one of the most complex, convoluted and mind-bending of the lot.

Shakespeare is really hard work if you don't do enough accompanying research. It's like blindly trying to figure out a Rubik's cube. More like chess against hardcore AI, more challenging than fun. Once you know the keys and moves it all fits into place and seems straightforward enough, but unjumbling the jigsaw is a major struggle for the uninitiated.

You cannot jump in and swim, but will probably drown without enough strong-current conditioning.

I still think this is one of Shakespeare's superior tragedies though because of how cryptic the key positioning of characters is. Hamlet is similar to this in complexity.

Imagine a giant war game, like those wall-mounted boards in WW2 bunkers with icons for tanks and troops and important cities. That's a Shakespeare tragedy in a nutshell, the constant need to navigate blocks and factions from once region to another, trying to strategically win the battle. Macbeth, Hamlet, Julius Caesar - it's all the same.

Like all of Shakespeare's tragedies, when you lose track of the plot and who's who it can become a major grind! But there's something logistical and chess-like about King Lear that makes it worth persevering with. It'a dense, macabre and even comical in places. The ultimate in hardcore medieval literature.

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