Thursday, October 8, 2015

Keep it in the Family

The following excerpt (p.59) from Bloom's Anatomy of Influence is about how to read King Leer:

All attempts to read King Leer as a positive, hopeful Christian drama are weak and unconvincing, but so drastic is the play that desperate attempts to soften it are understandable if deplorable. It is the most harrowing of all literary works, ever. Shakespeare pulls us in, exhausts us, and releases us to nihilism. Lear is neither saved nor redeemed, Cordelia is murdered, and Edgar survives as a warrior-king who, by one English tradition, goes down battling the wolves that overran the kingdom.

    This is in response to those who claim that Christ has his dominion even over stage plays that represent pre-Christian Britannia. If you are familiar with the play, you might argue for a Christian sensibility by pointing to Cordelia, a martyred figure, but not consistently.

    Domestic strife within families, like in works such as King Leer, move us to see that fathers are tragic figures. Leer pleaded, while anyone who would respond with pity was chided because his character is such that any love given him will be shown to be inadequate.

    The three daughters went their separate ways and eventually died off one by one. It seems as through they were unfit to inherit the kingdom that their father was to give to them. Such is feminine weakness in the response to Edgar and Edmond's fight for the throne.

    Much more could be said about the play, but I wanted to give a brief response to those who feel that they should read this play with theological insight. Some things should be evaluated for what they are, which is not redemption, but tragedy for a nominal Christian audience.

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