Andrea Alsup, Hanover High School in Hanover, NH.
King Lear 5.3.369-379
What's On for Today and Why
King Lear exists in two distinct versions, a quarto edition from 1608 and the First Folio of 1623. Here, students will compare Lear's last speech in the two texts, evaluate the two different versions, and edit the speech themselves.
This lesson will take one class period.
King Lear Comparison Handout
What To Do
1. Distribute the attached handout, the text of Lear's last speech from the 1608 Quarto and the 1623 Folio editions of the play. Explain that the 1608 edition was titled The True Chronicle History of...King Lear while the 1623 edition was titled The Tragedy of King Lear, and that the two texts contain other differences as well.
2. Have students read the two speeches, noting any differences in word choice, punctuation, and speech attribution.
3. Discuss as a group which version your students prefer. Which is more consistent with Lear's speeches in the entire play? Which is more hopeful?
4. Have your students act out the speeches in the different styles suggested by the two different texts. See if they can identify different acting styles for the two pieces.
5. Have students create their own edition of the speech. They will need to consider whether they want to base their edition on one of the texts, or if they will use ideas from both.
6. Conclude with a discussion. How many different ways are there to edit this speech? What ambiguities in the text of the play remain?
How Did It Go?
Did students understand the significance of the differences between the two texts? Were they able to present those differences either by acting or by editing the passage in different ways? Did they begin to understand the difficulties involved in editing a Shakespeare text?
If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.