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King Lear, Shakespeare's masterpiece, is one of the towering works of world literature. In no other play is Shakespeare's tragic vision more terrifyingly clear-and nowhere in his canon does he create a richer or more complex set of characters. When King Lear divides his kingdom among his three daughters, he sets in motion a cascade of violence that sweeps the civilized world to the brink of chaos, and Lear to the edge of madness.