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Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear are the four most prominent and revered works that William Shakespeare had ever produced, though the first three that I mentioned seem to be recognized as more superior to King Lear. The opinion of many critics and others who are familiar with the bard’s work, myself included, feel that King Lear is one of, if not, the greatest achievement in William Shakespeare's repertoire. Many people, however, on the other side of the token, feel that King Lear is not his best play by far which puzzles me as a reader. To envision such a plot and story line filled with war, love, death, deceit, and madness was written in the early part of the 17th century is virtually unimaginable and more likely to happen in the "anything goes" spectrum of today's literature and television.
King Lear was written about 1605 and is very similar to its most recent predecessor, Othello (1604), in that both have the face of evil appear in its coldest and inhumane forms. Many of the intricacies in Othello seem to rub off in that of King Lear. I do wonder if the fact that both plays were written virtually one on top of the other that Shakespeare overlapped the two plots twisting and turning them just enough to maintain the separatism in both plays. Was Shakespeare writing both plays at the same time with his mind focused on a specific type of tragedy? Was Shakespeare displeased with one or the other when he wrote them? these are some of the questions that are raised in my mind when I read the similarities of the plays and comprehend how close together they were produced.
In reading the texts on King Lear there seemed to be a vast amount of criticism concerning the play involving its adaptability for stage, its dramatic clearness, and its acceptability. The basis of King Lear's unpopularity among the "fab' four" seems to be due to the extreme painfulness of the catastrophe, its dramatic defects, and a failure to most readers to grasp peculiar effects that Shakespeare includes in the play.
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It is wonderful things like this that do make works such as King Lear one of the best works that William Shakespeare had ever produced.