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Free King Lear Essays: Comic Relief

Comic Relief in King Lear

Combining the antics of a circus with the pomp of a royal court is a difficult task indeed. William Shakespeare’s genius came from how closely he intertwined the two seemingly mutually exclusive realms to appeal to all socioeconomic groups in his audience. In King Lear, Edgar’s appearance as Tom of Bedlam, Lear’s insanity, and Lear’s Fool provide the comic relief which slices the dramatic tension. Among these, Lear’s Fool provides the closest intercourse of the two realms of royalty and tomfoolery while still maintaining their separation.

Fools, as I understand them, were kept by kings as entertainment devices prior to the advent of television. Lear’s Fool, how-ever, transcends the role as entertainer to assume the role of both Ann Landers and Jim Davis. Particularly intriguing to me are his witticisms and humorous tidbits which interweave foreshadowing, practical advice, humor, and characterization into a succinct, meterical saying.

The Fool begins by offering his jester’s cap to Kent, saying that if Kent is to follow Lear, he had better have a coxcomb, insinuating the folly of following Lear. He goes on to say that “if I gave my daughters all my property,” I’d have to keep a coxcomb. The Fool is quick to juxtapose his comment against his statement that he does not have a “monopoly” on foolishness. The Fool further points out the presence of a “wise man and a fool” without saying who is who, and he criticizes Lear for “going the fools among,” implying that Lear is usurping the Fool’s position as one prone to lapses of judgment and sheer stupidity. He tacitly insinuates through his actions and statements that he is among the company of fools, which provides the hint of foreshadowing the audience needs to know that Lear is losing his wits.

The Fool also uses argument by analogy several times. He first relates Lear to a hedge sparrow which feeds cuckoo babies, which then bit the sparrow’s head off. The Fool also relates empty egg shells to Lear and his crown. Shakespeare’s unique touch comes in the double meaning of the egg shells. The Fool says that Lear is left with two empty egg shells for a crown, but he also implies that Lear’s head is like an empty egg, related most clearly in the comparison of the color of Lear’s head to the color of an egg.

Desconstruction of the Moderinistic Myth in Quinn’s Ishmael

Desconstruction of the Moderinistic Myth in Ishmael

When I read Daniel Quinn’s works, Ishmael, Providence, The Story of B, and My Ishmael, I find a common theme woven throughout which is to desconstruct the moderinistic myth that we are apart from nature and therefore not subject to natural law. I don’t find Quinn’s ideas to be much different from what I read into David Orr’s Earth in Mind or David Ehrenfeld’s books Beginning Again and The Arrogance of Humanism.

I doubt that Quinn, as a writer, thinks for one minute that we are no different from other species who inhabit Earth. Language separates us, and writers probably know that better than the rest of us. Maybe I shouldn’t have grabbed his quotes out of context. Or maybe you had some other reason to be so quick to criticize Quinn.

If the use of the word “stewardship” really “instills a healthy dose of love and responsibility for the natural world,” as you suggest it does, I don’t believe Quinn or Ehrenfeld or Orr would have many problems with our using it as platform for discussion to move forward. But I suspect that all three writers are fearful that most of us don’t differentiate between “stewardship” and “dominion,” also that our “stewardship” will likely not be practiced with enough humility–e.g. use of “precautionary principles,” recognition of how little we really know–to make it a useful starting point. If we stay with “stewardship” it will be up to us to prove them wrong. Assuming, of course, that they would agree with what I’ve alleged on their behalf.

Does this mean we ought to throw away science or management, or even abandon the word “stewardship?” No, at least “no” with regard to science and management. I still wonder about our choice to use the word “stewardship.” Mostly I’m OK with it, but only if we take time to work through the baggage it carries. Mainly, though, we need to challenge theories, assumptions, and try to make sure they are grounded.

“Grounding” theory and practice in pluralistic reality is what my favorite postmodern writers seem to be challenging us to do. But herein hides a problem. My problem. Perhaps the writers I am referring to – Anderson, Borgmann (Crossing the Postmodern Divide), Ehrenfeld, Merchant (The Death of Nature, Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory), Orr, Quinn and others – don’t fit the label “postmodern deconstructionists.

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