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Interpreting the Text of King Lear

            Regardless of the time and place in which various productions were made, audiences continue to receive the play as an exploration of the values associated with the natural order. King Lear is a text that has been continually recontexualised but its universal nature is reflected through its reception in a range of contexts. The different productions highlight how the questions of power, familial duties and the role of fate have remained unchanged over time. King Lear is a four hundred year old tragedy of such textual integrity that it continues to be appreciated and interpreted in different ways by different responders.
             Natural order is maintained only through the responsible use of power. Shakespeare alludes to the Divine Right of Kings at the time of James I's ascension to power in 1603 and his wish to unite the thrones of Scotland and England. King Lear explores how responsibility and order are one and the same with power and authority. Lear is an irresponsible monarch who breaks the Chain of Being by dividing his kingdom prematurely. He carries a misguided and conceited notion of power which is characterised through symbolism in "Come not between the dragon and his wrath". It is ironic when Lear wishes to "unburthen'd crawl towards death" as a King was expected to lead and protect his people until his death. Lear's abuse of authority disrupts the natural order, cumulative imagery in "houseless heads" and "unfed sides" highlights the enormity of his realization to this truth. By encouraging pathos, Lear says, "Oh, I have ta'en/ too little care of this" pity is evoked in the audience for this failed monarch. Shakespeare addresses the issue relevant to his time as the notion of misguided power throws society into chaos.
             The values of responsible use of power and the natural order still hold significance to different audiences over time.

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