Title: King Lear
Author: William Shakespeare
Synopsis: Lear is King of England, and he has three daughters. He wants to split his kingdom between his three daughters. To find the daughter most deserving of the most land, he asks his offspring to express how much they love him. The two eldest shower lavish praise on their father, but the third, Cordelia, feels that her actions should speak louder than her words. She remains silent, and is banished for it.
The two eldest daughters take more and more power away from their father and finally, he runs away, and descends into madness.
At the same time, a nobleman has two sons, one legitimate, and one not. Edmund, the illegitimate son, wants his brother's birthright, and pits his father and half-brother against each other. Edgar must flee his father and brother.
(Spoiler) Everything spirals downward and everyone ends up dying except for Edgar who becomes King (end of spoiler)
My rating: 7 out of 10 stars.
Comments/the good: We listened to this book on tape (it only took three hours, too!) and very much to our surprise, we found that David Tennant does the voice of Edgar, the good son! We were listening, and he had a soliloquy and I exclaimed, "STOP THE TAPE! THAT'S DAVID TENNANT, ISN'T IT?!" and sure enough, there he was on the cast list! What a pleasant surprise.
Anyway, King Lear is full of metaphors and fancy language that needs translating. It's pretty interesting if you can understand it, and there are some very interesting debates between the characters on various topics.
I think I would enjoy this story more if it weren't so sad! The people of Shakespeare's day and age felt the same way, for after he died, many re-wrote the play's ending to happy instead of tragic.
Several characters were cheer-worthy; Edgar and Kent were tied for my favorite. I enjoyed hearing them both pretend to be other people. The Fool was also an interesting character, though he kind of disappears half way through the play and never shows up again.
The parallels between King Lear and Gloucester's situations was fun to write an essay on.
I remember being struck with some of the scenes that take place on the moor during a storm. They had some nice descriptions and conversations. Other than that, I can't really remember much, since it was over two months ago that we finished the story.
The bad/what you should be wary of: There are several, erm, very Shakespeare scenes and descriptions and metaphors that, to the unaware reader, wouldn't be a bother. But to one with a handy dandy No-Fear-Shakespeare or cliffnotes book, explaining what different old English words mean, things can get slightly graphic and a tad bit awkward. So beware.
Also, one character gets his eyes gouged out. This isn't really a problem if you are just reading the play, but it quite difficult if you are listening to or watching the play. Several other characters get stabbed/poisoned to death. Their screams of agony on the tape were almost too much to bear.
Would I recommend it? If you are a fan of Shakespeare's tragedies, or just Shakespeare in general, go forth and get yourself a copy! As far as Shakespeare goes, King Lear is one of his most popular tragedies. It has a lot of depth to it. Otherwise, I would maybe not recommend it. Especially if one is younger. 12+ at least for this one!
Title: Paradise Lost
Author: John Milton
Synopsis: This story is in twelve "books" and is depicts the Fall on Man from Genesis 3, including things from the devil's point of view, and what happens after the Fall.
My rating: 5 out of 10 stars.
Comments/the good: What can I say about this book.... The poetry and descriptions and rather nice in some areas.
As far as the story goes, I would much rather just read Genesis 3. Some of the books, however, were really interesting and those I enjoyed.
The bad/what you should be wary of: I didn't enjoy this book. Part of it was definitely because it was poetry. Poetry is really hard for me to read. Also, I didn't particularly enjoy the plot line, because, as I said, why not just go read Genesis 3? That's not to say others wouldn't, though. It was a very interesting read.
Would I recommend it? Personally, I wouldn't. Objectively, perhaps. It's one of the world's most epic classics for a reason. I wouldn't tackle it if I were below highschool age, however, as it is rather difficult to get through.
Live long and prosper!