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This article is an attempt to apply Corpus Linguistics tools and methodology to a comparative analysis of William Shakespeare’s King Lear (1605) and its neoclassical adaptation by Nahum Tate (1681). A ‘traditional’ analysis has highlighted in Tate the presence of three major shifts from Shakespeare – in genre, in characterization and plot, in language – which are the starting points of the present study aiming to find out whether and to what extent the results obtained ‘manually’ are confirmed by Corpus Linguistics. This article presents some results obtained by processing the two texts with the software WordSmith Tools. In particular, it discusses the quantitative data obtained and a qualitative analysis of three thematic words in Shakespeare – ‘fool’, ‘nature’, ‘nothing’ – and one thematic word in Tate – ‘love’.

In: The State of Stylistics