Essay about Madness in King Lear

1066 Words Jan 4th, 2013 5 Pages
Though separated by hundreds of years, William Shakespeare’s King Lear and Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres share many common themes. One of the most prominent themes shared by both literary works is that of madness. In King Lear, the theme of madness is developed throughout the story and not only involves King Lear’s descent into insanity, but also is seen when Edgar feigns madness as Poor Tom and when Goneril and Regan are gripped by madness over their lust for Edmund. In A Thousand Acres, the theme of madness is most apparent in Larry, but it can also been seen in other characters as well such as Ginny. In both King Lear and A Thousand Acres, Shakespeare and Smiley alter how they use the theme of madness from story to story exposing the …show more content…
This narcissism and illogical thinking, or deteriorating memory of King Lear can be seen as an early sign of him slowly edging towards madness. In A Thousand Acres, Larry, the [character that] parallels of King Lear, is [constantly] on the brink of insanity much like King Lear. In A Thousand Acres however, madness not only envelops Larry, but it also affects other main characters such as Ginny. Larry’s madness is attributed to his drinking, retirement, and inappropriate relationships with his children. The plot in A Thousand Acres is similar to King Lear, only instead of King Lear dividing up his kingdom among his daughters; Larry is splitting up his farm among his three daughters. Larry’s madness is also first seen at the beginning of A Thousand Acres, just like in King Lear when early on Lear is splitting up the land. Caroline objects to the splitting of the farm because she does not think it is a smart decision for Larry. As the book progresses we see more and more instances where Larry exhibits moments of insanity such as when he purchased the new cabinetry to show off to his neighbors and then let it sit out in the rain. His growing madness begins to craziness disrupt his family’s daily life making the children fearful of what he might do next such as try and leave town by driving his truck while intoxicated.

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