History Repeats Itself

In my Expulsion and the Housing Crisis Course, Dr. McCoy asked our class to play close attention to certain terms while reading, watching, and listening to Shakespeare’s King Lear. These terms are liquid(ity) and swap(ping) and how they do or don’t engage with the concept of expulsion in the play.

After reading, listening, and watching to King Lear in its entirety, the plot reminded me of a show on Netflix that I recently watched, Son’s of Anarchy. *Spoiler Alert*. In Son’s of Anarchy, all the characters in the end of the show all die due to hatred, corruptness, bribery, and ultimately expulsion. According to Merriam Webster, expulsion means “the act of expelling the state of being expelled”. Basically, it is the act of denying someone membership or a sense of belonging into a group or organization. In Son’s of Anarchy, there were a lot of viewers who expressed their disappointment and unsatisfied emotions at the end of the show. We discussed in class how King Lear left us unsatisfied by killing a majority of the cast. This has made me realize how Shakespeare’s work is seen in so many modern films and literature and it represents how concepts like liquidity, swapping and expulsion repeats itself.

I will first begin by discussing how liquid(ity) is seen in King Lear and how it correlates with expulsion. Other than thinking of liquidity as flowing freely like water, Investopedia defines it using a financial lens; “Liquidity describes the degree to which an asset or security can be quickly bought or sold in the market at a price reflecting its intrinsic value”. Basically, liquidity discusses how one can distribute money among their assets. In King Lear, Lear distributes his land to his three daughters, Cordelia (the youngest of the daughters), Goneril (the ruthless older daughter), and Regan (the middle daughter). In exchange of this liquidity, King Lear requests his daughters to tell the room how much they love their father- the one who speaks the best will receive the biggest portion of the kingdom. When reading Olivia Davis’ The Endless Shifts of Power, Olivia discusses how in Act 1 Scene 1, Cordelia tells her father, “Unhappy as I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth”. Here, Cordelia refuses to succumb to her fathers request which leads the her being expelled from the family dynamic and receives none of the assets.

To get a better sense of liquidity, I will now discuss how this concept repeats itself in Son’s of Anarchy as well. In this Netflix show, the main character Jax Teller eventually marries an outsider of the biker gang, Dr. Tara Knowles. In the beginning of the show, Tara is notorious for not succumbing to the requests of the gang and refusing their offers and assets. Even though Tara and Jax are in a relationship, they refuse her membership in the gang leading to her expulsion. We clearly see how denying liquidity will lead to that individual being expelled from the community.

Swapping is another term and concept seen throughout King Lear. In class, we discussed that swapping means “taking part in exchange of/ borrowing”. According to Merriam Webster, swap is defined as “an act, instance, or process of exchanging one thing for another”. We see this concept of swapping in King Lear when Lear gives his power over the kingdom to his daughters in exchange for love and gratitude. However, as we know, Cordelia refuses this power which leads to her expulsion over the kingdom and in her father’s heart. To stay consistent, I will like to give my readers another example of swapping represented in Son’s of Anarchy. Within the show, we constantly see an exchange of power within the biker gang and how it creates chaos in the gang dynamic. There are points in the show where Clay, Jax Teller’s step father, refuses to swap his power over to Jax, who should be the leader due to the death of his birth father. Eventually, this leads to Jax being expelled from the gang a variety of times because he refuses to succumb to Clay’s leadership creating chaos in the gang.

It is very interesting to see how Shakespeare’s work of literature has played a role in a variety of modern films and literature. Concepts like liquidity, swapping, and expulsion can be taken literally or figuratively, but they drive the plot of any story or film. The most interesting thing about Shakespeare’s ideas manifesting itself into modern works is how we can easily predict the ending, yet are always surprised, disappointed and left unsatisfied.

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