Discuss the significance of similarities and differences in Edward Bond's Lear with Shakespeare's King Lear.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of the strongest points of convergence between both visions of the old man's narrative is that there is a discussion of the complexities in the parent and child relationship.  Shakespeare's work reflects this in terms of how loyalties shift in both realms.  King Lear's loyalty to Cordelia shifts when he perceives her as loveless.  The loyalty of Regan and Goneril shift when they have won favor with their father.  In Bond's work, Lear perceives his children, Bodice and Fontanelle, as devoid of love and loyalty, and yet, he realizes that there was a point in which they did have love.  In both works, there is a strong examination of the complex nature of parent and child and the relationship between both.  I do think that this also highlights a difference between both works which is significant to understanding both.  While there is little in way of happiness at the end of Shakespeare's work, there is some redemption in how Lear and Cordelia come together at the end.  Albeit short lived, there is a clear understanding of how there can be recognition of that which is good, true, and beautiful.  It is short lived, but it is there, reflecting how art in Shakespeare's time, or even how Shakespeare himself, fully granted the reality of needing to find unity in a world devoid of it.  No such reality exists in Bond's vision, where violence and relegation of voice happens constantly and consistently.  The use of violence and the replication of such violence is part of Bond's world view, something that Shakespeare did not seem to articulate.  In this difference, there is significance in that both works' fundamental world view comes from different points of view.