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Literary Lessons in Love

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Literary Lessons in Love If William Shakespeare's work can be considered a foundation of literary achievement and theatrical excellence, the theme of love must be one of its fundamental cornerstones. In many Shakespearean plays, love is an effective theme that is carefully sculpted to yield the desired audience reaction or the required moral lesson, and can enhance both comedic and tragic works. Most significantly, the portrayal of love as a theme on stage is able to establish deep roots of meaning within the lives of the audience, drawing parallels between imaginary characters and the striking reality of human emotion. In the Olivier film version of Shakespeare's King Lear, the director makes careful decisions about character portrayal, camera angles, and lighting to accentuate particularly significant examples of self-love, materialistic love, and parental love in drawing the conclusion that love, as exhibited by many characters in the opening act of his play, is thoroughly flawed. One of the most prominent situations supporting the director's choice to demonstrate the imperfect pursuit of love in King Lear occurs when the ageing King, overwhelmed by his desire for flattery, decides to divide his expansive kingdom among his three daughters with the pursuit of self-love at heart. ...read more.


Edmond, the illegitimate son of Gloucester, desires so strongly to become his father's heir to gain material possessions that he resorts to lies and trickery. Edmond visits his father with a false letter, allegedly from his brother, Edgar, describing Edgar's supposed plan to kill Gloucester in order to gain early access to his father's assets. According to the letter, Edgar believes that, "this policy and reverence of age makes the/world bitter to the best of our times, keeps our fortunes from us/till our oldness cannot relish them." (1.2.45-47) Edmond's acquisitive desire likely originated from his shame as an illegitimate son, and demonstrates the imprudence of devising such cruel schemes as a result of loving material possessions. As a result of Edmond's submission to a deep love of money, he sends his brother away out of mock fear for their father's supposed rage, thus breaking the bonds of trust and love within the family. Edmond's selfish plan rooted in materialistic love also causes Gloucester to turn against his own legitimate son, calling Edgar an "unnatural, detested, brutish villain." ...read more.


This lighting arrangement also foreshadows the gloomy fragmentation of the family as a result of Gloucester's flawed fatherly love and his tactlessness for Edmond's feelings about his illegitimate conception. In conclusion, the theme of love as illustrated by Lear, Edmond, and Gloucester in the film portrays the message that human love is often selfish, insensitive, or otherwise flawed. This theme speaks to the very root of human behaviour, as much stress in daily life stems from the frustrations associated with fragile relationships of love. As is evident from the subsequent effects of each character's defective love in this play, blindly misusing one's power to love can easily harm other individuals, and may put one's own happiness at stake. Not only are Shakespeare's plays valuable as entertainment; they are vessels of moral education. By learning from these characters' misunderstandings about love, humans have a chance to recognize faults and improve their own relationships. It may take little more than some basic literary lessons in love to raise human tolerance, to learn to appreciate one another, and to begin to make a difference in our world by loving genuinely and selflessly. ENG4U-04 Allison MacLachlan King Lear Take Home Test Due Friday, October 22, 2004 ...read more.

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