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Best Reaction To Violence Essay

2944 words - 12 pages

Best Reaction to Violence

Throughout Bond's plays there is an analysis, sometimes implicit, of
the nature of violence, its causes and its consequences. Each of the
plays takes the analysis a step further. I have chosen to concentrate
on Lear because it is one of the most representative pieces of work
about violence in our society. In this play Bond's humanistic
philosophy is clear : "aggression is an ability but not a necessity".[1]
He condemns our society which uses violence supposedly for the
wellbeing of people, but without worrying about the disastrous
consequences. In this paper, I shall argue that violence is not the
best reaction to aggression. And I shall describe its causes and its
consequences throughout Lear; though giving some examples from The Sea
and Narrow Road to the Deep North to demonstrate all the facets of
this aggressivity.

The violence that Bond condemns is not violence in general but
specifically social injustice and war. It is present from the very
beginning of the play in the summary execution of a worker accused of
sabotage. This already sets the tragic mood of the play. One of the
great debates of Lear is the question: "do the ends justify the
means?" This is one of the big problems of our society. The play
mainly shows that the nature and interaction of social and personal
circumstances are the leading element of any action. Indeed, people
have good intentions but their means to achieve them are often based
on violence and thus lead to war.

In Lear the symbol of this violence is the construction of the wall.
In fact, Lear claims that what he is doing is good and correct. Lear's
actions are those of a man utterly convinced of his own rightness. And
therefore he justifies his cruelty by saying that killing a worker is
only a useful act in order to give his people freedom and security.
Here, ends justify means: the execution of a worker is useful because
it will speed the work up on the wall. Indeed, "otherwise [his]
visit's wasted"(I.i.18). However, his justification is paradoxical
because with the construction of this wall, he is doing exactly the
opposite, i.e. instead of making people free, he is imprisoning them.
So Bond wants to demonstrate that recourse to violence as the means to
realize our ambitions has tragic consequences even though we act for
the best, out of the best feeling.

Moreover, Bond's philosophy is often transcribed through Lear's
speeches: "It is perverted to want your pleasure where it makes others
suffer" (I.i.21). Here his daughters, marrying his enemies, have
betrayed him. He is the victim of their ambitions. However, here he is
once again contradictory because he is doing exactly the opposite of
what he is saying. In other words, Lear by ordering a "drumhead trial"
even though there won't be any, is unjust. He makes...

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