Funny Moments in Tragedy


“Our present business
Is to general woe.”

~ King Lear, Act 5, Scene 3

For some reason, that line delivered so solemnly by the Duke of Albany in the final act of the play makes me smile every time. There are so many dead bodies piled on top of one another and the drama is so compounded of endless miseries, that his words somehow seem incredibly redundant, and make the unendurable tragedy of it funny. But that’s probably just me.

I’ve just completed another reading of Shakespeare’s play, this time from the Oxford World’s Classics annotated edition, in preparation for watching a performance in a National Theatre Live presentation tomorrow evening. Sam Mendes directs Simon Russell Beale as King Lear. Looking forward to it!

King Lear in the Storm (1881)
by James Pittendrigh McGillivray
oil on canvas
24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm.)


2 thoughts on “Funny Moments in Tragedy

  1. I can’t help feeling this relates to the texts in a street arts’ inspired Pyramus and Thisbee of my acquaintance. If so, I’d say Woe must have moved up to Brigadier General by now, Noh? (xxx)

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