Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Marino, James

Subject Headings

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. King Lear, Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Political and social views, Geography in literature, Cartography -- England -- History -- 17th century, British literature Irish literature cartography Eurpoean histroy literature map cartography King Lear Shakespear unification England


The art of exploration became an important aspect of theater in early modern England. Exploration is typically done through the utilization of a map. The map scene in Lear provides a focal point to peer into the political ventures of King James I. As a proponent for peace, James both unified and divided his kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland through the use of cartography as a way to show the aspirations of a king. Lear, in dividing his kingdom between his three daughters, shows Shakespeare's careful strategic planning of the division of a kingdom and what that means in early modern England.While the map scene in Lear forces us to look more closely at the land that is represented on the map, the scene also forces us to look at how the land is represented on the map. Prior criticism has focused on the division of Lear's lands, but this paper forces us to look at how Lear divides and also how he unifies. This strategy of unification and division mirrors the political strategy of James through his own division and unification tactics. This thesis will focus both on how Shakespeare represents the map in the confines of a play and how the political struggles of a king are represented in that play