Tuesday, January 3, 2012

king leara post structralist reading

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“King Lear can be read in a number of ways, and the different interpretations say as much about the critics or directors as they do about the play.”


Do you agree? In your response, refer to at least ONE reading and ONE production of King Lear.


King Lear has been interpreted in many different ways, for example the post structralist reading, the feminist reading and the list goes on. None of these interpretations are absolutely right, as they represent the various viewpoints of groups of people in society. However, there is a production which I happen to take a fondness to, which is the modern appropriation done by the Shakespeare Globe Centre and is directed by Diana Denley. In terms of critics, I share the same views of some of the feminist readings, in which the rights and equality of women in King Lear are questioned.


In the production by Diana Denley, the stage is barren at most times, indicating the modern viewpoint of starkness yet meaning. The stage is empty, which reflects how the director wants the audience to take more notice of the actors and actresses, concentrating on their speech and clothes so they do not get distracted by the props. In many instances, the decorative and elaborate settings draw the attention of the audience, resulting in them focusing on the other unimportant things rather than the actual speech and language of the production itself. This director intends for the audience to enjoy the rich language of Shakespeare without being sidelined by the props.


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A Feminist reading is the perspective held by a group of people in society who believe that rights and equality should be given to the women. This is strongly seen by how many of them view the patriarchy, which is the male domination of women in King Lear. King Lear treats his daughters as subordinates who must obey his every whim and fancy. Like many Shakespearean fathers, Lear is enraged when his daughters disobey him. There are many instances, for example when he loses his temper at his daughter Cordelia for not expressing her love for him in pleasant words. In another case, his daughter Regan refuses his train of followers and Goneril joins in the demanding the Lear dismiss them. He then complains to himself, and unable to face the fact that women now have the higher hand in the situation, he loses his sanity slowly when faced with the daunting situation of lost authority.


In the production by Denley, the language used is predominantly taken from the original King Lear and only rarely is a phrase or two of colloquial English used to give it a contemporary touch. Personally, I feel that the director intends to do this as so to give the production a mix of old and new, a meeting of two cultures, where the classic English Literature has its original form and yet when you least expect it, out of the blue comes a phrase that causes you to jolt back to reality, and not be totally transported into a alienated Shakespearean world. The director aspires to make King Lear a play in a current context, but yet at the same time retaining the age-old feel of a play.


In King Lear’s speech, ‘But to the girdle do the gods inherit/beneath is the entire’s fiend’s/there’s hell. There’s darkness, there is the sulphrous pit’ the language used here is as though giving ammunition to a feminist critic to fire away at the unequality and the sexist remark. This is said to be as sexual disgust is shown in Lear’s ravings and he indirectly remarks that women are the source of lust. This group of individuals would think that this is uncalled for as men are also to be blamed for the lust as they commit the lustful thought and it does not entirely come from the women’s part. They reason that women are who they are and this is unchangeable. Men however should control their sexual urges and not succumb to desires but put a rein on their passions.


In the course of the Higher school Certificate, I have been honoured with the opportunity to read and understand many different readings and productions of King Lear. And through this period of time, there have been many different viewpoints and schools of thought that I have been exposed to. As a result, I have responded differently to the various representations and criticisms and have accepted and rejected some. It is clearly seen that the directors and critics also think very differently through some of the ideas that I have barely scratched the surface of. If I were to go into depth, this would no longer be an essay but a book! So I shall stop here and leave you to contemplate the rest.


My essay on King LEar


the post structralist reading versus the feminist reading


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