The end of Shakespeare’s King Lear finds its characters situated atop the striking cliffs of Dover, England, a setting suitably dramatic for the climax of one of drama’s great tragedies. The blinded Earl of Gloucester asks his son, Edgar, to bring him to the edge of the cliffs saying, “There is a cliff, whose high and bending head /Looks fearfully in the confined deep: /Bring me but to the very brim of it.” Edgar pretends to lead his father to the edge of the cliff and remarks on the dizzying height—how the crows below look like beetles and the fishermen look like mice.
When I first read King Lear, I didn’t expect to experience this dizzying height for myself. However, a couple of years back, I visited the chalky limestone cliffs and looked down. I was surprised to find that Edgar’s description rang true: the people below indeed looked like mice, dwarfed by the majesty of the cliffs. As a natural wonder and the setting for the end of King Lear, the White Cliffs of Dover are certainly worth a visit for adventurer and book-lover alike!
Image by Ian Wilson