I’m trying to draw some connections between King Lear and the course themes we’ve been talking about. Since reading Act III, I feel a little less lost and confused than I did about how Shakespeare would fit into all of this than I did a week and a half ago. I think there’s much to be said for King Lear, a man who is supposedly in a position of relative authority, and his relationship and interaction with nature. So great is King Lear’s faith in his own status that he underestimates nature itself, and we can see this attitude reflected in his relationships with Goneril and Regan, whose power and authority he similarly underestimates. Like King Lear, people in positions of authority played off the destructive force of nature when Hurricane Katrina hit, underestimating it and/or playing off the damage it left in its wake.
I also don’t think that it’s by accident that Lear’s daughters are stripping him of his power, in a sense, meanwhile Mother nature is physically putting Lear in danger. Taking that feminist reading, I think I can make a few obvious parallels to Hurricane Katrina, but maybe I’ll instead wait to get back to this train of thought and either support or refute it in a future post. For a long time, hurricanes were only given traditionally feminine names, and nature is often gendered female. That being said, I’m not so up on the details of Katrina and the housing crisis that I feel prepared to write with any authority on a feminist take on the topic, but I have every intention of continuing to look out for the representation of women in the course readings and in the real life events that they are meant to parallel.
One final parallel concerning blame: in the play, we see Gloucester and Lear both praising the wrong offspring while condemning Edgar and Cordelia, who were the ones who really loved them and would have helped them. When disaster strikes, those in positions of authority look for others to shift blame onto. As the course progresses, I’m sure we’ll see just which groups of people will be made to bear this burden of blame, and who will be shifting it onto their shoulders.