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4. Gloucester, Lear and the Absent Mother
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the parallels between Lear’s relationship with his daughters and Gloucester’s relationship with his sons, focusing in particular on: (i) the figure of Edmund, his bastardy, and his decision to implicate his brother in a plot against his father – a series of events that leads to Gloucester’s banishment of Edgar; and (ii) the theme of the absent mother in Shakespeare, and the ways in which – in Shakespearean drama, at least – a father’s relationship with his children seems unable to withstand the loss of a mother.
In this course, Professor Grace Ioppolo (University of Reading) explores Shakespeare’s King Lear. We begin in the first module by thinking about Shakespeare’s sources for King Lear – what he took from earlier versions of the story, and what he invented for himself. After that, we think about the critical reception of the play, focusing in particular on Peter Brook’s 1962 production and the influence of Jan Kott’s ‘Shakespeare Our Contemporary’ (1961). In the third module, we explore the opening scene of the play, before turning in the fourth module to the theme of the absent mother in the play. In the fifth and sixth modules, we focus on the long central act of the play, thinking first about Act III as an exploration of human nature, and then about what Act III tells us about the kind of tragedy King Lear is. Finally, in the seventh module, we think about the final two acts of the play, focusing in particular on the very end of the play, and the meaning of the play as a whole.
Grace Ioppolo is Professor of English at the University of Reading. Her teaching focuses mostly on Shakespeare and his contemporary dramatists, although she also has an interest in American drama of the 20th century. Her recent publications include the Norton Critical Edition of King Lear (2015) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (2018)
Cite this Lecture
Ioppolo, G. (2019, November 05). Shakespeare: King Lear - Gloucester, Lear and the Absent Mother [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/shakespeare-king-lear-grace-ioppolo/gloucester-lear-and-the-absent-mother
Ioppolo, Grace. "Shakespeare: King Lear – Gloucester, Lear and the Absent Mother." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 05 Nov 2019, https://massolit.io/courses/shakespeare-king-lear-grace-ioppolo/gloucester-lear-and-the-absent-mother