'King Lear is consistant un unchanging through time' Do you agree?

Essay by shmallUniversity, Bachelor'sC+, August 2004

download word file, 7 pages 4.0

'King Lear is consistent

and 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...