In this post I will be listing the sources, as well as quotes/further info etc.
Geoffrey Monmouth - Historia Regum Britanniae
Existed as a Latin manuscript. Although WS probably consulted it he was more likely to use other source texts (probs because this one is shit). Geoffrey was first to present King Lear's story- he may have invented the love test and division of the kingdom. Later, he incorporated this into later histories as if it was fact.
- Leir divides the kingdom so that the daughters attract husbands
- "Is there any daughter that can lover her Father more than Duty requires?.... whoever pretends to it, must disguise her real Sentiments under the Veil of flattery"
- Aganippus, King of Franks insists that he loves Cordelia and takes her without her dowry
- "his two Daughters, made an Insurrection against him, and deprived him of his Kingdom"
- Cordeilla orders a retinue of servants to clothe and heal Lear and later C+ A receive Lear honourably
- Leir returns to Britain with C + forces they've raised. 5 yrs into C reign she's betrayed by her 2 nephews (Regan + Goneril's sons) and kills herself in prison
Raphael Holinshed- The Historie of England in The First and Second Volumes of Chronicles
WS consulted the 1st volume published in 1577. Follows Geoffrey in all its key points
- But the greatest grief... was to see the unkindnesse of his daughters
- the unnaturalness...not withstanding their faire and pleasant words... he fled the land & sailed into Gallia there to seeke some comfort of his yongest daughter Cordeilla
- 'honorablie, and lovinglie received'
- 'his hart was greatlie comforted'
- Aganippus created a mightie armie ... to see him againe restored to his kingdome"
- His bodie buried at Leicester in a vault under the channel of th river of Sore beneath the towne
Anon- The True Chronicle Historie of King Leir and his three daughters Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella
Written before WS + same played performed by the Queen's and Sussex's Men's acting companies on 8th April 1594. Follows histories of Geoffrey + poems of Higgins and Spenser than WS does. In particular, the happy ending of Lear's restoration to the throne and Cordelia's succession to her father as a monarch of Britain.
- Opens with Leir mourning death of his wife- wonders how to allow daughters to accept suitors he has chosen for them
- C only marries for love therefore creates a love test
- G + R are warned about this test before= reharse + sabotage C's response
- C refuses to flatter him so L divides the kingdom between R + G
- C leaves but falls in love with disguised Gallian (French King- Oh la la!)
- L quarrels with G over his retinue + leaves for R unaware they are plotting to murder him
- L fights with R, so L + P run away but are pursued by a messenger to kill them
- L + P disguise themselves as sailors and go to France where the meet C + her husband disguised as country bumpkins
- They form an army, go to England where they confront R, G and their husbands
- L returns to throne as king of Britain + C and husband are his heirs
This is a didactic novel= trite whereas WS adds dimension + depth while this remains a simple narrative. It's also a much more pious play: "My kingle title I thee have gaynd/ Thank heavens, not me". But in Shakespeare's play we're not sure there is a God- see AC Bradley
What does Shakespeare add?
- Gloucester Plot
- Heath scene
- eye gouging
- Edmund + the bastard motif
- Edgar as poor Tom
- deaths of Lear and Cordelia
- Lear's madness
- Key focus on psychology/inner workings of the mind= HUMAN SUFFERING
|This is motivation for my revision... don't judge me!|
Key Differences between Leir and Lear
- Mourning Queen Lear
- Gives him an excuse for being so trusting
- Add psychological motives
- Goneril and Regan now about the love test and can prepare while C can't
- Courtier =Pernillus
- Need to give land in order to attract men
- No mother therefore where is the motive? - wants to pet his ego
- C sees through the rhetoric but in Lear it's just an aside
- Courtier= Kent's banishment in disguise
- Adds Lears rages = reunion is much more poignant
- Interesting use of contrasting pairs- Edmund and Edgar
- Goneril and Regan are already married
- Pains to present that R + G are not horribly evil at the start