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Destruction of order (final copy) - Between 1604 and 1605...

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Between 1604 and 1605 William Shakespeare wrote the play King Lear. It was one of the last plays he wrote before he died. The story takes place approximately around 800 BCE. It is about a King named Lear who rules England, and the relationship he has with his three daughters Cordelia, Gonreil and Regan. The time frame of the story, set within ancient history, introduces us to a point in time in which many old systems and ways still existed. These included both the social and political structure of society as well as the nature of religion which, dating some 800 years before the birth of Christ, would have still been largely dominated by paganism in the west and the worship of a whole pantheon of religious deities rather than just one (polytheism vs. monotheism). Nature was also an important basis of religion at this time in that people believed that the natural forces of the universe were controlled and even manipulated by the will of the gods. In the first act of King Lear , we see Lear begin to destroy himself both on a personal level as well as through his own family. In fact, this pattern of destruction can be seen throughout the play in the way in which the old order is destroyed through personal, familial, social, natural and divine elements. As Lear realizes that he is getting older and that his life will soon draw to a conclusion, he decides to resign his reign and divide up his kingdom amongst his daughters. Traditionally, a kingdom would be passed down to the first male born within the family. However, because Lear lacks a male heir, he must pass it down to his three daughters: Cornelia, Gonreil and Regan. However, before doing so he asks them to profess their love towards him. He asks Gonreil first and she replies: "Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;" (1.1 57-63). Lear content with her response, then
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asks Regan to pledge her love for him. Regan replies by saying: "made of that self metal as my sister," adding that "I profess myself an enemy to all other joys which the most precious square of sense possesses… In your dear highness' love"(1.1. 71-78). He then asks his youngest daughter Cordelia. However, Cordelia’s response is quite different from that of her sisters. Instead of lying for her own benefit, she tells her father the truth.
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