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King Lear: A Portrayal of Domestic Dysfunction

Domestic Violence and Family Dynamics in One of Shakespeare's Greatest Tragedies.
by

Iris Henderson

on 27 October 2012

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Transcript of King Lear: A Portrayal of Domestic Dysfunction

Family Violence and Fatherhood Domestic Dysfunction in King Lear Edmund's Mother Mothers Lear Fathers "I love your majesty according to my bond, no more, no less." Children Edmund Siblings Domestic Violence " Power, Control, Nature, and Ecophobia Cannibalism FREUD "...yet was his mother fair; there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged." Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia's Mother "If thou shouldst not be glad, I would divorce myself from thy mother's tomb, Sepulching an adultress" Why are they absent? Why is this important to the plot?/ What effect does this have on the play? Gloucester "I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall" "Which of you shall we say doth love us most?" "But I have, sir,
a son by order of law,
some year younger than this,
who yet is no dearer in
my account..." Is love Quantifiable? "You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I Return those duties back as are right fit, Obey you, love you, and most honour you." "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!" - Lear Cordelia Goneril "Into her womb convey sterility, dry up in her the organs of increase, and from her derogate body never spring a babe to honour her." Regan "I am made of that same metal as my sister, and prise me at her worth" "Edmund the base shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper." "...That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry Half my love with him, half my care and duty: Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters, To love my father all." "I loved her most, and thought to set my rest On her kind nursery." "Thou madest thy daughters thy mothers" "The barbarous Scythian, Or he that makes his
generation messes To gorge his appetite,
shall to my bosom Be as well neighbour'd,
pitied, and relieved, As thou
my sometime daughter."
The play posits domestic disharmony both as monstrosity and as a form of cannibalism"
- Simon C Estok "Humanity must perforce prey on itself like monsters
in the deep." "The hedge-sparrow fed its cuckoo so long, That it's had it head bit off by it young" "'twas this flesh begot those pelican daughters" “Ecophobia is all about fear of a loss of agency and control to Nature. It is ecophobia that sets the Old Testament God ... declaring that "man" (anatomically and generically,...) is to have dominion over everything. It is ecophobia that allows "man" unquestioned use of land and animals. And it is ecophobia that posits Nature as the scapegoat for social problems .... Control of the natural environment, understood as a god-given right in Western culture, seems to imply ecophobia, just as the use of African slaves implies racism. ... ecophobia is about power.” Women as Victims "...the hatred of women and the hatred of nature are intimately connected and mutually reinforcing" - Ynestra King “Women are discursively, politically, and materially analogous with Nature in the play, not simply on the level of imagined genital nothingness, but on the level of their ideological function. Effectively voiceless (except as imagined menace and threat), an object of masculine desires for control, and a resource to be husbanded and managed, the natural environment and women are each potentially a profound threat to masculine control when things go awry. And things certainly do go awry in King Lear. Moreover, such threats have no place in Lear's world. Literally no place. They are irreconcilable with Lear's spaces of control.” Power and Control of the Home "home starts by bringing some space under control" - Mary Douglas "unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, fork'd animal as thou art" Do you support Cordelia's decision to respond honestly to Lear? Or should she have humored her old, simple-minded father by merely telling him what he wanted to hear? Can we condemn Goneril and Regan as 'evil' for doing just this? What do Edmund and Regan have in common? (cc) photo by medhead on Flickr "...Old Testament God ... declaring that "man" (anatomically and generically,...) is to have dominion over everything." - Simon C Estok
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