Lear Questions and Answers
by Edward Bond

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Compare Shakespeare's King Lear with Edward Bond's Lear.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Edward Bond's approach is more overtly political than Shakespeare's. As a committed socialist, Bond wants to use the raw materials provided by Shakespeare to mount a withering critique of what he sees as the endemic corruption of capitalist society. To that end, Lear is presented by Bond as having experienced something of an epiphany. He realizes that the system by which he achieved power is thoroughly rotten and needs to be destroyed to usher in a new, non-hierarchical, non-exploitative society. Bond's Lear is thus a more active character than his Shakespearean counterpart. No more is he a mere plaything in the hands of fate; he's a shaper of his own destiny, as can be seen from his—ultimately doomed—attempt to dismantle the wall he built to keep out his enemies.

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alexb2 eNotes educator | Certified Educator


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There is a lot to compare between the two works, but one interesting approach is to compare the two central characters: King Lear. What's interesting about the comparison is how similar the two Lears are. One of Bond's goals in creating the play was to drag Lear into a contemporary situation but leave his essential character unchanged. Bond wanted to show how Lear's faults reflect upon contemporary society, and saw him as a symbol of the West in general.

One of the biggest changes is the character of Cordelia. In Shakespeare's version, she is seen as a force for good who moderates her father's murderous behavior and ultimately excuses him with her love and forgiveness. Bond does not allow Lear to have a forgiveness figure; his Cordelia is a victim of the war.

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