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Shakespeare's King Lear vs. A Thousand Acres

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Jacob Lewis

on 25 April 2014

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Transcript of Shakespeare's King Lear vs. A Thousand Acres

Shakespeare's King Lear vs. A Thousand Acres
A Thousand Acres: Background
Originally a Pulitzer Prize winning novel written in 1991 by author Jane Smiley
What's in a Name?
Answer: A LOT
Lost in translation (to film)
The character of Loren (Edgar) is somewhat present in the novel but is all but nonexistent in the film
Striking Similarities
Larry's dismissal of Caroline/Lear exiling Cordelia
Why King Lear?
It's a tragedy revolving around madness and betrayal, but it also focuses on the relationships between father and child and, to a lesser extent, siblings.
A Thousand Acres of Analysis
This novel, as well as the film, is most notably different from
King Lear
because of its female viewpoint and stance on issues affecting women
A Presentation by Jacob Lewis
Focus will not be on the novel, but instead the 1997 film of the same name
Parallels we see just based off of names:
Larry Cook
Ginny Cook Smith
Rose Cook Lewis
Caroline Cook
Let's play
a guessing
King Lear
Can Jane Smiley's modern day, countryside retelling of King Lear hold up to the Shakespeare original?
Larry's literal cursing at Rose and Ginny/Lear's cursing of Goneril and Regan
Regan and Goneril's seduction by Edmund/Rose and Ginny's seduction by Jess
Larry is unable to recognize Caroline/Lear is unable to recognize Cordelia
The family forever loses the farm/kingdom
Harold, Larry's best friend and Loren and Jess' father, is blinded by Rose's husband Pete
Ginny makes a poisoned sausage
While it take many plot elements from King Lear, the novel's main focus is on Ginny and Rose, whose characters in
King Lear
(Regan and Goneril) are villains
Issues affecting these Women
Marital Abuse
Extramarital Affairs
Death of a Husband
Paralyzing effects of living in a society driven by patriarchy
Rape and Incest
Breast Cancer
The characters of Goneril and Regan are never given a history, what's their tale? Think
These sisters are all interesting, strong female characters, whether or not they're morally good.
So does A Thousand Acres live up to its Shakespearean predecessor?
How can you compare to Shakespeare??
It both does and doesn't. Smiley accomplished what she meant to, and that's reflected in the movie's script and scene choices.
Works Cited
Smiley, Jane.
A Thousand Acres
. New York: Knopf, 1991. Print.
A Thousand Acres
. Dir. Jocelyn Moorhouse. By Jane Smiley. Perf. Jessica Lange and Michelle Pfeiffer. Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc, 1997.
Shakespeare, William.
King Lear
. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992. Print.
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