Lend Me Your Ears

Lend Me Your Ears: King Lear

What happens when your country is run by an aging narcissist who may not be entirely stable?

King Lear

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos via Wikimedia Commons.

Lend Me Your Ears is a podcast miniseries exploring how Shakespeare’s works have shaped our modern views on politics. Each month, host Isaac Butler will dig into a different Shakespeare play to explore how Shakespeare was responding to his current events and how they map onto our own. Read Isaac’s introduction to the series and listen to previous episodes now.

If a nation can be thought of as a family, what happens when the family running the nation falls apart? At the exact moment that King James I wanted to unite England and Scotland, Shakespeare answered this question with his masterpiece of tyranny, madness, and betrayal: King Lear.

In the third episode of Lend Me Your Ears, host Isaac Butler talks to theater critic Helen Shaw, Yale English professor David Kastan, and University of Roehampton professor Clare McManus about the themes of unification, misogyny, and entitlement found in one of Shakespeare’s greatest works.


The actors in this episode are Geordie Broadwater as King Lear, Emily Gardner Xu Hall as Cordelia, and Daryl Lathon as Albany and Kent.

Slate Plus members get a bonus episode of Lend Me Your Years every month. This episode, Isaac is joined by Barry Lam, a Vassar philosophy professor and host of Hi-Phi Nation, and Slate Plus editorial director Gabriel Roth. Together, they discuss reading King Lear in a contemporary context, sympathizing with Lear’s daughters, Lear’s great moment of madness, the character of the Fool, and the play’s concepts of nature and unnaturalness.

If you are logged into your Slate Plus account, you can find this week’s bonus episode in the player below this paragraph, or find it in your members-only podcast feed. Not yet a member? Click here to join.

Podcast produced by Chau Tu.