What are the competing philosophies throughout the play King Lear?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In assessing the primary relationship between Lear and his daughters, I think that one can see the competing philosophies that collide and leave all of them as victims in the end.  Lear is a believer in the old ways of tradition.  In such a setting, the word of the father is taken above all, the role of the parent is beyond reproach, and there is a natural "pecking order" that sees him at the top and all else underneath.  This collides with the vision of modernity, where individuals freedom defies hierarchy and where self interest reigns over all else.  It is in this philosophy that Regan and Goneril operate.  These two worlds come into direct conflict with one another when Lear recognizes that his value system is obsolete, that tradition has been usurped by modernity, and the result is his abandonment.  In this light, I think that one can see the powerful nature of ideas and philosophies and how they underscore the action in the drama.

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