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'king Lear Is Consistant Un Unchanging Through Time' Do You Agree?

1651 words - 7 pages

'King Lear is consistentand unchanging through time'...do you agree?The play to be focused on is King Lear. The focussing themes are family and parent- child relationships; authority and the state; and man versus nature. These are the key factors to be studied before coming to a conclusion as to why scholars, critics, dramatists and the ordinary reader in the library find Shakespeare's plays so moving in various ways.The recurring theme of parent/ child relationships is striking in that it provokes moral, philosophical and psychological ideas. M. Bodkin expresses relationships as being ambivalent: to a child their parent may be 'both loved protector and unjustly obstructing tyrant'. To the parent, their child can be 'both loving supporter of age and ruthless usurper and rival'. This is most definitely applicable in the relationships of Lear's children. Seeing as the play opens with Lear stating his decision to abdicate, and therefore crawl unburdened to death, having reached old age. However, the fact that he performs this 'test' of love on his children proves that he wishes to retain this authority, and seem the 'obstructing tyrant'. From a psychological perspective, it can be seen as a typical biological characteristic of the male sex, that is, to be aggressive and more assertive. It could even be argued that at this particular time for Lear, he has reached a turning point and is quite possibly experiencing a gender crisis. The psychologists Eric Erikson proposed, ironically, the famous idea of the 'eight ages of man'; according to this theorist, Lear's 'Development task' considering his age, would be 'Looking back over one's life and accepting its meaning', but instead, his psychological crisis is one of 'integrity versus despair'. This is certainly true in Lear's character, as there seems to be a confrontation between what he has achieved in his position as King thus far, and the various demands posed by personal and social settings. Whether Erikson's theory is accurate or not is not relevant. What is, however, is the fact that it describes a moving account of the human odyssey through life and especially in Shakespeare's tragic plays, the audience have always been provoked to ponder on the various philosophical ideas presented by the characters soliloquies and actions (or inactions!).Power corrupts Lear's ability to love and also corrupts the instinctive love of others. It arouses doubt since Lear cannot be sure that those who genuinely love him are simply flattering him. Yet it is ironic that those who love him and refuse to flatter are hated and banished, and it is the flatterers that are rewarded. Bridie goes as far as calling Lear an '...an arrogant old idiot, destitute of any descent human quality, and incapable of any reasonable act'. It is from Cordelia's refusal to barter her love for material love and Lear's reaction to banish her, where the tragedy begins. Lear violates his duties of kingship here. Lear's tragic flaw is perhaps,...

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