Are Our Societies Really That Different?

Generally speaking, when people think of the past (for example, Shakespeare’s time) they think it’s something so far removed from our culture; an era that completely differs in traditions, values, morals, and behavior. However, there are two instances that I noticed in Act 1 that relate to today’s society.

King-Lear-You-Are-So-Ridiculous; Instance-Number-One: It’s fairly safe to assume that everyone in this class found King Lear’s “love me, love me, say that you love me” game was absurd and immature. He said:

Tell me, my daughters
Since now we will divest us, both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?

A father, who is usually represented in literature as the wise and logical archetype, is not only fishing for compliments, but attempting to create divisions between his daughters (I interpret the latter from the last line). Here we have a competition for love: sound familiar? How about shows like “The Bachelor” and “Flavor of Love” where a bunch of people “compete” for the love of a man/woman. They are asked ridiculous questions, put through pointless obstacles, in order to prove themselves and “win” their heart.

More directly:
King Lear: I will give land to whoever seems most worthy-> Worthiness comes from proving oneself-> Proving oneself= making me feel validated and loved by saying how important I am.

The Bachelor: I will give my heart to the contestant that seems most worthy-> Worthiness comes from proving oneself-> Proving oneself= going through “important” obstacles and challenges in order to make me feel validated and loved.

King-Lear-You-Are-So-Ridiculous; Instance-Number-Two: When Cordelia didn’t give into her father’s request, she was disowned. I admire her act of bravery. Her answer of “Nothing, my lord” really shows a lot about her character—she is an independent thinker and she is not willing to give into something she doesn’t believe is right. I think most of our reactions were that her disownment is beyond bizarre and something like this would never happen in today’s society. Think again:

Members of Westboro Baptist Church will “pull a King Lear” if their child disobeys or even questions what the church is doing. Although they are extremists, I find it disgusting how one can disown their child- no matter what circumstance. Instead of summarizing the story I heard about, I think it’s much more powerful to watch the video clip that was featured on ABC news:

*Warning*: this is not the easiest thing to watch.


One thought on “Are Our Societies Really That Different?

  1. Zan Strumfeld

    Wow this is a GREAT post. I agree; people often create a wide gap between Shakespeare's world and ours, but they are so similar and we can constantly relate our lives to that society. Although I'm not a fan of the shows you mentioned, I think they are perfect points in emphasizing the connection between the past and today. "The Bachelor" is indeed quite similar to the crap King Lear is trying to pull here. Lear's attempt to create a division between his daughters can still be seen in other contexts: I can even remember friends of mine in elementary school all the way to high school asking who like the other more. Great post!


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