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Shakespeare views man as intrinsically evil and violent, while Bond, in his play Lear, views man as a victim of circumstance.

This paper tries to involve and relate the two playwrights Shakespeare and Bond who have works that have something in common, - violence. This theme will be covered well in this paper in relation and reference to their respective works.

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Overview of Shakespeare’s King Lear

The narrative of King Lear can be described in a few words like this: in a mythical early Britain, King Lear, by this time an old gentleman, has chosen to withdraw from lively reign and plans, while upholding particular sanctions, to split his kingdom among his three daughters and their spouses. The rebuttal from his youngest daughter, Cordelia, to support her father in the open with a flowery pronouncement of love, gives birth to the tyrannical and vain Lear to cut her out of his will and share out her section of country between his two other daughters, Goneril and Regan (Hay 106).

This sets off a disastrous progression of happenings. Once they have a taste for authority, Goneril and Regan go against their father, ultimately, divest him of his dispensations and maliciously turn him out of their home. A battle explodes between the British armed forces, led by the husbands of the two of the eldest daughters, and the French defence force, whose camp comprises of Cordelia, who has wedded the king of France. Lear and Cordelia, after a succinct but tender reunion, meet a heartbreaking doom.

Overview of Bond’s Lear

Bond cannot be said to fit in to a specific school of theatre, but the authority of Brecht and Artaud can be seen in his plays as well as outlines of English folk theatre and most importantly, Shakespeare. He merges a communist view of history and the social order with parabolic and representative staging mechanisms. More than any other English dramatist, Bond has fully involved himself with the dilemma of violence. In Lea, for instance, two individuals are unpleasantly tormented and executed on stage, and Lear himself is rendered sightless by a complex contrivance in a peculiar scene on stage.

He even goes to say that he writes about violence as easily as Austen wrote about comportment. Violence outlines and consumes our society, and if we do not stop being aggressive, we have no hope for the future. Individuals, who do not want playwrights to write about violence, want to impede them from writing about us and our current times and happenings. It would be morally wrong not to write about brutality and violence.

The ferociousness and naked animalistic intentions that Bond experienced in the army would become indivisible for him from the political principles of dishonesty and corruption, and the fatuousness of respect and impartiality, - themes that recur almost obsessively in his dramatic writing. His sense of the army as a parodied version of society is particularly prevalent in plays like Lear, an adaptation that ironically criticizes the “sentimental sloppy relevance for dead idols” in more ways than one (Hay 153).

Bond's rationale is to ensure Shakespeare's play more effective in an opinionated manner, more probable to cause citizens to query their community and themselves, rather than just to have an inspiring artistic experience. As a communalist dramatist, Bond writes works that are not meant simply to amuse but to help to bring about transformation in the community.

Surprise, discomfort and opposition are collective audience responses to King Lear's fierce misuse of Cordelia in the first scene of the play; though, the play then changes so quickly to other dramatic relations and proceedings that it inclines to thrust these approaches out of mind. This change is here observed as a seduction to curb the terror and antagonism stimulated by Lear. This consequence unlocks the method to understanding documentation with him in his succeeding disgrace, sorrow and insanity. These opposing answers relief shape a sad structure in which an additional multifaceted Lear becomes the fatality of his oath on Cordelia. The seductive scheme looks like labors by investigative patients to persuade the forecaster into tyrannically abandoning important features of conversion that necessitate logical care. Lear's attitude the significances of his oath is compared to features of the decompositions of sternly self-absorbed patients. In addition, to the range that the audience has automatically acknowledged with Lear's violence and contributed expressively in other excruciating scenes, as is probably the case, it has been unintentionally responding as well with responsibility and depressing concern. These responses upsurge willingness to be unfocused from negative conceit and reactions to it.


This research paper will aim at showing the various examples of the theme of violence in the works of both Shakespeare and Bond which is indicated in the dissertation heading: “The theme of violence in Shakespeare’s King Lear and Bond’s Lear”.

Sources of Information

Various sources were used in order to obtain information that is indicated in this paper, some of which were taken from the Internet. The sources include the actual plays that are being discussed in this paper. Thorough revision of these plays has led to important conclusions that have been drawn in this paper. Some popular publications on the discussion of these themes were also referred to ensure that I was indeed on the right track.

Findings and Discussion

An important part of this paper is to find out who of the two playwrights came first, that is who was the earlier of the other. It is quite obvious that it was Shakespeare and Bond’s work is based on themes, storylines and characters from Shakespeare’s King Lear. The theme of violence is their common theme and happens to be the main thing that Bond picked from Shakespeare.

Nevertheless, in contrast to Shakespeare, Bond does not suppose that man is fundamentally violent. Instead, he is influenced into thinking that Man is predisposed towards violence because of the way in which civilization works that estranges him from his peaceable nature. Bond agrees with quite a number of his Marxist associates and sees the core of all evil in consumerist society’s estrangement of mankind. He is predominantly critical of the separation of the community into ruling and ruled divisions. He also sees the controlling of social norms and laws as contemplative and of an undeserved social order, and thus as highly and easily provoked to become aggressive. He continues to express his sentiments about violence by saying that in this manner an unfair community causes and describes crime; and a destructive social organization, which is unfair and must generate violent social disturbance, obtains the moral permit of being decree and order. Decree and order is one of the measures taken to uphold unfairness.

According to Bond, the causes of aggression resides in something he refers to as social principles, by which he denotes a type of violence that is both originally invisible and not direct, and is internalized by the character in the path of his/her socialization procedure. Therefore, only an elementary transformation in the community can truthfully eliminate violence. But in Lear, Bond illustrates that the influence of structures of the reigning class are astoundingly definite and steady. One of the fundamental patterns in the play is the wall which, as the play develops, comes to represent the political supremacy that no ruler can live without. In this play, supremacy is based upon a composite mesh of aggression and ferocious circles of repression.

Bond also uses the representation of an incarcerated animal in an essential scene in the play, representing that the character is confined to a network of domineering societal norms and thought prototypes from which he must free himself to accomplish true humanity. This can be communicated to the burning urge to involve one’s self in violence. Hope seems unsuitable in the face of Bond’s view of the social order as unchangeable and of violence resulting in violence, but Bond can nevertheless not be observed as a naysayer - and he does not consider himself as one - since he never tumbles into acquiescence and inactivity but carries on to have faith in the perfectibility of mankind and civilization. This conviction shows itself particularly clearly in the stature of Lear who, like his Shakespearean namesake, experiences a procedure of self-recognition and discovering which ultimately gives him an insight into the certainty about himself and other people around him. The turning point in his growth comes in the court scene when he glances into a mirror and believes he sees a monster in a confine.

Learhas been deemed the one of the most brutal drama ever hit the stages of London as well as the most contentious of Bond's works. It has been revitalized a number of times since its initial production, and its standing has grown as more serious consideration has been given to Edward Bond's work. Even though it is clear that Learis a significant piece of work amongst Bond's works, its full end product on modern-day drama remains to be experienced.

What he in fact sees is the character that has turn out to be estranged from himself, ensnared in a cage constructed of standards, responsibilities, imperatives and regulations that disagree with his actual temperament. The personality must be freed from this confine, must reconnect with his actual character before the community can change. Bond utilizes the matching animal descriptions as Shakespeare, but overturns its implication (Ioppolo 120).

While, in Shakespeare, the animal represents the face of the human being, which has to be eliminated, so that the forces of good can succeed, in Bond’s play, it represents that it is only a part of the human being from which he/she is separate from by the social order. The scene in Bond’s Lear by a convoluted contraption represents the systematic technological appearance, which vindictiveness takes in the developed social order. But the bodily blindness is also a figure of speech for ‘insight’, understanding and wisdom, an aspect which we are familiar with from Shakespeare’s works. Bond’s Lear seems to propose that the human being who has been taught from experience should start to tear down the walls put up by him and others. On the other hand, Lear’s bereavement comes out to point out that Bond no longer deems the likelihood of a non-violent resolution to the predicament, and he became markedly more sweeping all through the 70s (Bond 76).

The conception of a weakening family unit is perceptible through the categorization, and the paralleling narratives of two families, apparent in numerous scenes for example the “Love Trial Scene” in Act 1 scene 1 to the invention of the letter to mislead Gloucester in Act 1 scene 2, “The Storm Scene” in Act 3 to “The Blinding Scene” in Act 3 Scene 7 and “The Reunion of King Lear and Cordelia Act Scene” in Act 4 scene 6 and “The Heave Scene” where the Poor Tom/Edgar steers his father in Act 4 scene 1. Shakespeare utilizes language and thespian methods to draw attention to and question the dynamics of the family unit. This concept has been enlightened by the Richard Eyre's 1998 creation of King Lear (Scouten 71).

King Lear is a script which reflects an “archetypical dysfunctional kin” and this is represented through the categorization of both the mature fathers Lear and Gloucester. Lear's responsibility as a ruler and father is questioned all throughout the works of art, and is clear through his daughter's announcement, “yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself” which is incongruously accurate. This is emphasized through the very important tone in Act 1 scene. Lear's ceremonial dialogue contains many implications alluding to his pre-eminence, “give me” and “speak.” His authority is supplementary, represented when he is looking at a map, with the purpose of dividing his kingdom among his daughters, and he evaluates their affection for him through the possessions he will give to them. This discloses without a doubt that Lear is exploiting his authority as both a king and father (Ioppolo 139).

King Lear carries on to be esteemed as a consequence of its textual veracity and its investigation of universal issues philosophical of the human state. Shakespeare successfully discloses to his spectators through the use of theatrical methods and an arrangement of a tragedy, issues such as family associations, sex parity and power with energetic classification, as symbolism of his circumstance.

Shakespeare's King Lear was inscribed in the 1600s, a phase in which Queen Elizabeth was the leader and the community was overseen by a feudal scheme (Shakespeare 41). It comprised of the vassal who waged war for his lord in exchange for receiving fortification for his citizens, land occupancy and the lord paying dues to the King as a result of his rank granted. Thus the scheme fabricated an inflexible hierarchal culture where the citizens believed in the celestial right of Kings and the succession of being. The large chain of being covered a chain of command in which God and the King were at the pinnacle, followed by the church, nobles, the ordinary man, and then vegetation and animals. In spite of being a time of evolution with increasing travelling, new-fangled information and movement from the ancient means of thinking, many things inexplicable were elucidated by relating them to the supernatural (Ioppolo 142).

In Shakespeare’s King Lear, the aberrant constituents seem to always dictate the natural constituents all through the play. There subsists a turnaround of order in the play where the evil flourish in the collapse of the good, and where bloke's life is worthless and capricious. King Lear, the disastrous hero, expires in the conclusion despite the anguish and suffering; he had to tolerate to rejuvenate and be penitent. But it is the insignificant obliteration of innumerable of other lives because of Lear's own private catastrophe that sustains the outlook of the cruelty and the worthlessness of human's existence in the script (Shakespeare 52).

Existence in Lear's world is cruel, and at times, unforgiving. All this has been produced by the sovereignty of evil in the storyline. The ordinary order of stuff has been overturned to such a degree that several of humanity's enchanting values have been abandoned and bewildered. Evil characters, such as Edmund, are admired by most for depicting the "deceit" of Edgar, while Edgar is condemned for his "wickedness". Love, based on unselfishness and certainty, is influenced in money-orientated conditions. A person's life, then, can only be measured as subjective and worthless in the frenzied world of King Lear.

The nature of Lear dies in a state of happiness, but he nonetheless dies in the end. He had incalculable anguish for their foolishness, and yet he had gained understanding – endurance, insight, affection – from the occurrences of his life. Both were revealed to have the capability for contrast during their tribulations and both were daring enough to conquer their weak points. Yet, despite their regeneration acquired through distress and pain, they are created to expire in the finish. Their bereavements barely appear just and appropriate if a person's life were not worthless. But in King Lear, a person's life is worthless without a doubt. (Spencer 116).

There were also many other individuals who were not directly engaged in Lear's personal disaster that perished for it. Because of Lear's mistakes and the succeeding supremacy of evil, the military forces of France and Britain fought for. That struggle must have resulted in numerous deaths on both of the faces. The territorial army of France, guided by the King of France and Cordelia, had arrived in an effort to conquer the wicked sovereignty of Goneril and Regan, and to liberate King Lear. Cordelia was still held by admiration, responsibility, and compliance to Lear in spite of her expulsion, and she, at last, had come for her much-loved father. Lear's foolishness had caused both sets of military forces to struggle for his salvation and renaissance. The countless fatalities of soldiers from both sets of armies are too numerous and unimportant to take note of in this unresponsive world of King Lear (Ioppolo 177).

At last, if the deaths of Gloucester and Lear appeared unjust, then the demise of Cordelia can be regarded as completely undeserved. Cordelia embodies the good qualities of self-sacrifice and truthfulness wholly, and she had sufficient love to help her father in spite of his total maltreatment of her in the start. Cordelia dies cruelly in the end, executed by a captain induced by Edmund. Her vicious passing away is such an overwhelming surprise that one can only maintain that a man's life is worthless in King Lear. Cordelia, of all the individuals, should not have perished, and to expire in such a violent method points to the cruelty of a person's life in King Lear.

It can be quarrelled that the obliteration of good by malevolence is a disastrous truth of life, and while that may be factual, there were just too many bereavements to be explained for in the work of art. In the end, in King Lear, Shakespeare illustrates a theme that it is probable for the person to shape his own path in vocation. By choosing an immoral path, one can be self - disparaging. Following a path of decency allows one to have sacred hope and bonds with man like them. It is a just world that permits the liberty of choice to subsist for the person and that also cautiously monitors the occurrence of goodness (Spencer 91).

Consequently, in King Lear, Shakespeare does not illustrate an uncaring world. He also does not illustrate that man's existence is worthless. He does point out, nevertheless, that there is fairness in anguish, that evil is confirmed to be pointless, and that only through integrity is a sense of religious expectation and devout bond possible. By exemplifying these details, Shakespeare aspires to point out that not only is the world 'not unsympathetic', but also that man's temperament is very significant to the preservation of impartiality in the world.

But there comes a time in most Shakespeare plays where the individuals have grown to such a degree that it is no longer possible to ram them into the pre-assigned plan. There is a time where the play goes off the rails, the plot Shakespeare is working from is no longer adequate, and Shakespeare has to merely put his individuals jointly in the particular condition and then observe what they perform. This is the time where the individuals and the play start to really come to existence (Spencer 105).

Quite clearly Shakespeare's technique of working was to start with a fundamental plot, more often than not taken from some pre-existing narrative, and then he would begin from the start of his work and right to the end. And when he got overwhelmed in the scene he was working on, he, at his finest instants, was so mesmerized by what was happening in that scene that he, at least to a huge degree, was forgetting about the general course of the play. By the time he was done with that scene, both the individuals and the general driving force of the play would often have adjusted from what they were before, and Shakespeare would persist with the play from the novel basis. A contemporary writer, even before the arrival of word processing, would have then gone back and amended the start to conserve a sense of consistency and constancy for the work in entirety. Shakespeare, instead, didn't do this. He is accounted to have boasted that he never cancelled a line once inscribed. This is one of the stuff that makes his most excellent plays so alive (Hay 64).


It can be observed that a relation can be drawn from these two pieces of work in relation to violence and anger. From various excerpts from the plays we can see that there are many situations in which, for instance, Shakespeare, would relate the politics and violence during his time and wrote it down in his plays. His play also adequately shows his belief, which is that man is intrinsically evil and always has the urge to commit harm against the other.

Bond, on the other hand, draws his themes of violence from Shakespeare’s title. We can see though that there is a slight difference in that Bond believes that man is not intrinsically bad and evil, instead, that man is made to commit these evils because of their social status or the evils that surround them and push them to these actions that harm their neighbors. He believes that it is a chain, caused by the surrounding, which in essence are the people. So, in essence, saying that man is naturally violent or not violent is not logical. Hence, we view Shakespeare as a bad man, one who doesn’t give man a chance in his play, viewing him as naturally violent and vindictive. We see this in the act of King Lear’s two daughter’s acts on their father. As with Bond's other plays, the hostility in Lear is still a topic of decisive deliberations to this day.

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