Is King Lear like Job?I doubt if Shakespeare had the Bible in mind when writing KL, but why does the king seem so much like Job? In the biblical story, Satan temps Job to curse God, which he does,...

Is King Lear like Job?

I doubt if Shakespeare had the Bible in mind when writing KL, but why does the king seem so much like Job? In the biblical story, Satan temps Job to curse God, which he does, and as a result Job becomes the epitome of affliction--a metaphor for suffering:  everyone forsakes him, he becomes homeless, and all the other details, until the end of the story when God speaks to him and he is restored (he gains self-knowledge).  All of this is very like the situation of Lear. But does God (in any symbolic way) speak to Lear? Does he get any comfort at the end of the story the way Job does? Does anyone think Shakespeare was going about rewriting the Job story for any particular purpose? Or does Job have some sort of faith that Lear lacks and therefore cannot in the end be rewarded?  Any ideas on Job and Lear?

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Is King Lear like Job?

I doubt if Shakespeare had the Bible in mind when writing KL, but why does the king seem so much like Job? In the biblical story, Satan temps Job to curse God, which he does, and as a result Job becomes the epitome of affliction--a metaphor for suffering:  everyone forsakes him, he becomes homeless, and all the other details, until the end of the story when God speaks to him and he is restored (he gains self-knowledge).  All of this is very like the situation of Lear. But does God (in any symbolic way) speak to Lear? Does he get any comfort at the end of the story the way Job does? Does anyone think Shakespeare was going about rewriting the Job story for any particular purpose? Or does Job have some sort of faith that Lear lacks and therefore cannot in the end be rewarded?  Any ideas on Job and Lear?

Lear is like Job in the epic scope of his suffering. However, beyond that, I do not see the two figures as linked. To address one of these questions directly, I don't see Lear as being much like Job. They are both complacent at the start of their sagas, and both have their worlds torn apart. However, several factors distinguish them. First and most obviously, Lear starts the play in a naturalistic world. This leads to the second key difference: no one leads Lear astray, as Satan worked on God, then Job. Instead, Lear stumbled all on his own. In that, Lear seems more like a figure from classical mythology than a biblical figure. His hubris leads him astray all on its own, and the family he thought he knew punishes him quite sufficiently without any need for divine intervention.

There is, however, some comfort: Lear is not abandoned. Kent and Cordelia love him through all.

 

 

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