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Disappearing Nephews Essay

663 words - 3 pages

Adaption is very clearly prevalent as of late. Since the invention of film, countless classic stories have been adjusted time and time again to fit new timeframes and new settings. However, as Linda Hutcheon observes, “Shakespeare transferred his culture’s stories from page to stage” long before our cinematic time . The story of King Lear, which had been told many times before Shakespeare put his version of the tale on stage in 1606 , exemplifies this. The story of “King Leir” can be traced as far as far back as 1136 with Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae . However, upon comparing the two texts, a few major differences emerge, namely the characters Cunedagius and Marganus and their capture of their aunt, Cordelia, in the Monmouth account of the legend . These characters are nonexistent in Shakespeare’s King Lear after a long decline in popularity over various retellings of the famous king’s story. The further we progress through adaptions of Monmouth’s original story, the further these characters recede into the background until they not even a blip on the audience’s radar.
In Monmouth’s version of the story, contrary to Shakespeare’s text, when Cordelia and her husband Aganippus, king of the Franks, come to restore Leir to the throne, they are successful and none of our protagonists die in the process. However, the story does not end there. “Three years later Leir died” and a widowed Cordelia succeeds him. After reigning peacefully for five years, Marganus (son of Maglaurus, the Duke of Albany, and Goneril) and Cunedagius (son of Henwinus, the Duke of Cornwall, and Regan) appear. Cordelia’s two nephews became “indignant at the fact that Britain was subjected to the rule of a woman” and imprison her. While captured, she “grieved more and more over the loss of her kingdom and eventually she killed herself.” Her two nephews ruled the kingdom divided between them, until Marganus, believing himself to be the rightful heir as...

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