Our Interview with Shakespeare Scholar, Jasper the Unicorn
On King Lear by William Shakespeare
KariMag: What do you think of the tragedy that befalls King Lear?
Jasper: I think that a lot of the responsibility belongs to Lear.
KariMag: Can you give us any examples?
Jasper: Lear behaves a lot like child towards those who try to warn him against giving up his
kingdowm to his two daughters, Regan and Goneril. He banishes Kent who tries to warn him,
he threatens to whip the Fool who tries to warn him and he even ignores Cordelia's
speech about the speeches her sisters have given.
KariMag: Who do you think tries to warn him the most?
Jasper: Definately The Fool! Because he is considered a person purely around for amusement,
Lear does not take him seriously. The Fool tries many different stories, songs and scenarios to
get Lear to see the truth of his crumbling kingdom.
KariMag: What about Kent? What role does Kent play?
Jasper: Kent is a character who pretty much stops trying to warn Lear and takes up the role
of Lear's protector. He defends Lear when Oswald insults him and he also tries his best to
keep Lear safe from himself.
KariMag: What are we supposed to think of the Edgar/Poor Tom character?
Jasper: I think Billy - that's what I call him - wants the reader to think that Edgar/Poor Tom
is the male equivalent to Cordelia. Despite the anger and hatred that Gloucester, his father,
may feel for him, he still remains there to protect and defend his father. There's an echoing
theme of duty and loyalty on behalf of the child despite the behavior of the parent.
KariMag: That's deep.
Jasper: We're also given the exact opposite of the "Good Child", which would be Regan, Gonerial
KariMag: Are we supposed to feel that Edmund, in some way, is justified in his actions?
Jasper: Against his father, I think to a degree being referred to as a mistake might qualify
as a reason to dislike one's father. But Edgar was completely innocent in everything
and Edgar exacting revenge in the end against the one who wronged by he and his father
is definately a great example of Karma.
KariMag: What about what becomes of Regan? Is that karma at work too?
Jasper: Regan is perhaps the most vicious character - second only to Edmund. She basically
thinks everyone except for Edmund is expendable. Her sister even becomes an obstacle to her.
I think if Jerry Springer has taught society anything, it's that sisters will destroy each other
over a man - and not even a good man. Unfortunatley in the end of the play we see that
Goneril had a greater potential for betrayel since she actually poisons her sister
KariMag: Just a few more questions. What do we think of the absence of the King of France? He
is obviously very noble, or else he would not have married Cordelia when she had nothing.
However, he is clearly missing during the battle where Cordelia leads the army.
Jasper: Maybe he was a feminist and thought women belonged in war too.
KariMag: Uhm..but even so, wouldn't he have been at his wife's side?
Jasper: Weekend at the spa? How should I know?!
KariMag: Geez, sorry. Moving on, then. The Fool. What do we think of the death The Fool?
Jasper: He annoyed the sisters. We think they were annoyed enough to do something.
KariMag: The curses that Lear places on his daughters - how common are those?
Jasper: Has your parent ever said: "Someday, you'll have a child just like you and then
Jasper: Then you too have been cursed by an angry parent.
KariMag: Okay. Well then..
Jasper: The death of Cordelia, Lear and the prophecized death of Kent?
Jasper: The death of Cordelia can be read in several ways. One can say that Billy the Bard
does not believe women can succeed in battle, but Edgar's success shows that men can. Another
thing we can see is that Cordelia's death basically symbolizes the end of Lear's lineage.
Lear basically destroys the future too. And then there's the truly far fetched theory that
Cordelia didn't really die - she, Lear and Kent went off to a small town in Ohio
and they run a pub out there.
KariMag: Does Kent's predicted death also show his loyalty to Lear?
Jasper: Yes. We witnessed Kent's dedication to Lear throughout the entire play. I mean,
he pretended to have an American accent! How low can one stoop?
Jasper: I mean..he pretended to be someone else for an entire play. That's a big thing to do
for someone that wanted to have you killed.
KariMag: Whatever. So tell us, what do you think of the play on the whole?
Jasper: I think that this was a great work which can work for many theories, papers, essays
and dinner discussions. King Lear is a story of love, hate, betrayel and loyalty. It
KariMag: Thank you, Jasper the Unicorn. Your expertise has been greatly appreciated.
Jasper: Of course. Goodbye!