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Love, Friendship, Loyalty In William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream And King Lear

3063 words - 12 pages

In William Shakespeare’s (1564-1616) attempt to explore themes of love, friendship and loyalty in his plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1600) and King Lear (1603-1606), there is distinct and constant portrayal of these themes classified of inconsistencies. It is crucial to understand that the historical context of Shakespeare’s writing is important in grasping a true understanding of the inconsistencies that exists in love, friendship and loyalty. Writing during the time of the renaissance, Shakespeare’s critical writing of such themes is of great importance in understanding the new socio-political framework of the early modern English times. Shakespeare therefore presents a new kind of paradigm for human relations unearthing past traditional ideologies with a forward outlook of society. Through his careful use of characterization, dialogue and the interesting development of plot, Shakespeare successfully creates for the reader, a rather insightful appreciation for the central themes of the plays in relation to theatre at the time of his writing. Regardless of the difference in form of the plays under analysis, Shakespeare manages to maintain and demonstrate the idea of the fluidity of love, loyalty and friendship by highlighting how inherently erratic human relationships are while at the same time providing for the reader, an opportunity to rationally decipher his employment of style and form in his portrayal of these themes.
A basis for exploring Shakespeare’s themes is by mere awareness of the fact that “the moral vision in Shakespeare’s plays is not obedience to the ancien regime but a new moral order based on free will, choice and commitment: a personal bond love and trust between individuals that becomes an inspiration to their world” (Dreher 38). Consequently, one understands that this ‘free will’ and liberty that is being exuded by Shakespeare’s character is quite a contributing factor to the many inconsistencies of love, friendship and loyalty highlighted in his plays under discussion. To further analyze the fluidity of these themes; significant focus will be gravitated towards the relationship between Lear and Cordelia in King Lear and that of Egeus and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. By mere focus on the depth of the relationship between these characters, an examination of the challenge to patriarchy and paternal interference will be provided to further understand the impact of ‘free will’ that Dreher mentions.
With the shifting of the English societal structure from feudalism to capitalism during the early renaissance, there was a shift in authority from the feudal lord to the monarch down to the individual patriarchs who ruled over their families with a power that made the father “a legalized petty tyrant within the home” (Dreher 40). However, as was previously mentioned, the progressive forces of personal ‘free will’ and liberty inevitably would stirrup some form of imbalance and chaos to the orders of traditional society....

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