BookRags Literature Study Guide Lear by Edward Bond Copyright Information



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Topics for Further Study

Topics for Further Study

Discuss the difference between William Shakespeare's King Lear and Bond's Lear. In what ways has Bond changed Shakespeare's play? What might be the significance of those changes? Consider especially Bond's characterizations of Lear and Cordelia.

Compare Lear to Oedipus in Sophocles's play Oedipus Rex. Compare the blinding of Oedipus to that of Lear How does blindness work as a metaphor in each play?

Using Machiavelli's The Prince as a resource, discuss the nature of political power. How is power obtained and maintained? Is it possible to seek power in an ethical manner? How do individuals seek and secure power today?

Research Bertolt Brecht's concepts of epic theater and the alienation effect. How does Bond employ Brecht's concepts in Lear?

While some critics consider Lear's final act of digging up his wall futile, others have seen purpose in it. Given that Lear knows that he cannot destroy the wall and that he almost certainly will die if he tries, what could be his purpose In the attempt? Is anything achieved by Lear's defiance?
Compare & Contrast

Compare & Contrast

1971: Advances in science and technology create fears that humankind is tragically abandoning its bucolic past. Contemporary problems such as overpopulated urban areas and vast unemployment are blamed on technological advances that replace humans with machines

Today: Computers have revolutionized business, education, and personal lives in developed countries but are also criticized for leading to alienation and an escape from "real" life. The successful cloning of sheep leads to questions about medical ethics.

1971: American intervention in Vietnam and British military presence in Northern Ireland make the horrors of war real as American and British young men die in violent altercations with the results being televised Four student protesters are killed at Kent State University in Ohio, leading to a further sense of violence at home.

Today: Wars continue, including those in the Balkan regions and the Persian Gulf, but public protests against these conflicts are less visible. Concern about violence focuses more on gang wars and other types of urban crime.

1971: Focus on helping the poor is primarily evidenced in legislation and government assistance, but there is some movement toward abolishing Britain's welfare state as Education Minister Margaret Thatcher ends the free milk program in schools.

Today: Many government social programs of the 1960s and 1970s have been dismantled There are still efforts at governmental assistance to the poor, but people in general are more skeptical that government can make such programs work. Focus is on the assistance of the private sector and there is a greater emphasis on volunteerism.

1971: Despite the oppression of socialist regimes, such as those of the Soviet Union and East Germany, socialism is romanticized, particularly by the young. In Britain especially, socialism is considered a viable alternative form of government.

Today: The Soviet Union has been dismantled and the Berlin Wall tom down. Socialism is rarely romanticized as it was. There are comparatively few socialists in the United States, but the movement still has some strength in Britain. This is particularly evident on the British stage.
What Do I Read Next?

What Do I Read Next?

KingLear, a play written by William Shake speare in about 1605, is the Original source of Bond's adaptation In essence, Bond's play is not a rewriting of Shakespeare's play but a reaction to that text, particularly to Shakespeare's portrayal of King Lear and his three daughters.

Saved, Bond's 1965 play, also focuses on the violence of today's culture. As in Lear, Bond's use of onstage violence is extreme, but his focus this time is on the contemporary working class.

Mother Courage and Her Children, a play written by Bertolt Brecht in 1939, also focuses on the horrors of war. As in Lear, the fact that the ruling regime changes does not matter. The people continue in their poverty and degradation. Like Lear, the character of Mother Courage suffers greatly, but she does not change because of her suffering.

The Wall (1979) is a concept album by the group Pink Floyd. Its story deals with a disillusioned rock star who, through various events in his life, constructs an imaginary wall between himself and the rest of the world. Within his mind the wall becomes a real barrier that he must destroy to once again join humanity. The work was also adapted as a film by director Alan Parker.

The Prince, by Renaissance philosopher Nicolo Machiavelli, is a classic discourse on the proper way to rule, marked by its emphasis on the need for a ruler to maintain power by all means necessary, including violence and cruelty.
Further Reading

Further Reading

Chambers, Colin and Mike Prior. Playwrights' Progress:Patterns of Postwar British Drama, Amber Lane, 1987. This book is a good general introduction to British drama after World War II. It includes individual chapters on Bond and a number of his contemporaries

Hirst, David L Edward Bond, Macmillan, 1985.

This is a general introduction to Bond's work.

Sked, Alan, and Chris Cook. Post-War Britain: A Political History, Penguin, 1990.

This book provides a history of politics in Great Britain from World War II through the 1980s, includ1ng a detailed look at the 1970s, when Lear was first produced

Spencer, Jenny S Dramatic Strategies in the Plays of Edward Bond, Cambridge, 1992.

Spencer's book provides strong analyses of many of Bond's plays, including Lear.

Trussler, Simon, Editor. New Theatre Voices of the Seventies,

Eyre Methuen, 1981

This book contains sixteen interviews with contemporary British playwrights, including Bond, reprinted from Theatre Quarterly. In his interview, Bond discusses Lear.
Sources

Sources

Hay, Malcolm and Philip Roberts. Bond' A Study of hisPlays, Eyre Methuen, 1980, p. 103.

Lappin, Lou The Art and Politics of Edward Bond, Peter Lang, 1987, p. 129.

Roberts, Philip, Editor Bond on File, Methuen, 1985, pp 23-24.

Schanne, Richard. The Plays of Edward Bond, Bucknell, 1975, pp. 184-209.
Copyright Information

Copyright Information

This Premium Study Guide is an offprint from Drama for Students.

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Introduction

Purpose of the Book

The purpose of Drama for Students (DfS) is to provide readers with a guide to understanding, enjoying, and studying novels by giving them easy access to information about the work. Part of Gale's"For Students" Literature line, DfS is specifically designed to meet the curricular needs of high school and undergraduate college students and their teachers, as well as the interests of general readers and researchers considering specific novels. While each volume contains entries on "classic" novels frequently studied in classrooms, there are also entries containing hard-to-find information on contemporary novels, including works by multicultural, international, and women novelists.

The information covered in each entry includes an introduction to the novel and the novel's author; a plot summary, to help readers unravel and understand the events in a novel; descriptions of important characters, including explanation of a given character's role in the novel as well as discussion about that character's relationship to other characters in the novel; analysis of important themes in the novel; and an explanation of important literary techniques and movements as they are demonstrated in the novel.

In addition to this material, which helps the readers analyze the novel itself, students are also provided with important information on the literary and historical background informing each work. This includes a historical context essay, a box comparing the time or place the novel was written to modern Western culture, a critical overview essay, and excerpts from critical essays on the novel. A unique feature of DfS is a specially commissioned critical essay on each novel, targeted toward the student reader.

To further aid the student in studying and enjoying each novel, information on media adaptations is provided, as well as reading suggestions for works of fiction and nonfiction on similar themes and topics. Classroom aids include ideas for research papers and lists of critical sources that provide additional material on the novel.

Selection Criteria

The titles for each volume of DfS were selected by surveying numerous sources on teaching literature and analyzing course curricula for various school districts. Some of the sources surveyed included: literature anthologies; Reading Lists for College-Bound Students: The Books Most Recommended by America's Top Colleges; textbooks on teaching the novel; a College Board survey of novels commonly studied in high schools; a National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) survey of novels commonly studied in high schools; the NCTE's Teaching Literature in High School: The Novel;and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) list of best books for young adults of the past twenty-five years. Input was also solicited from our advisory board, as well as educators from various areas. From these discussions, it was determined that each volume should have a mix of "classic" novels (those works commonly taught in literature classes) and contemporary novels for which information is often hard to find. Because of the interest in expanding the canon of literature, an emphasis was also placed on including works by international, multicultural, and women authors. Our advisory board members--educational professionals-- helped pare down the list for each volume. If a work was not selected for the present volume, it was often noted as a possibility for a future volume. As always, the editor welcomes suggestions for titles to be included in future volumes.

How Each Entry Is Organized

Each entry, or chapter, in DfS focuses on one novel. Each entry heading lists the full name of the novel, the author's name, and the date of the novel's publication. The following elements are contained in each entry:

* Introduction: a brief overview of the novel which provides information about its first appearance, its literary standing, any controversies surrounding the work, and major conflicts or themes within the work.
* Author Biography: this section includes basic facts about the author's life, and focuses on events and times in the author's life that inspired the novel in question.
* Plot Summary: a factual description of the major events in the novel. Lengthy summaries are broken down with subheads.
* Characters: an alphabetical listing of major characters in the novel. Each character name is followed by a brief to an extensive description of the character's role in the novel, as well as discussion of the character's actions, relationships, and possible motivation. Characters are listed alphabetically by last name. If a character is unnamed--for instance, the narrator in Invisible Man-the character is listed as "The Narrator" and alphabetized as "Narrator." If a character's first name is the only one given, the name will appear alphabetically by that name. • Variant names are also included for each character. Thus, the full name "Jean Louise Finch" would head the listing for the narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird, but listed in a separate cross-reference would be the nickname "Scout Finch."
* Themes: a thorough overview of how the major topics, themes, and issues are addressed within the novel. Each theme discussed appears in a separate subhead, and is easily accessed through the boldface entries in the Subject/Theme Index.
* Style: this section addresses important style elements of the novel, such as setting, point of view, and narration; important literary devices used, such as imagery, foreshadowing, symbolism; and, if applicable, genres to which the work might have belonged, such as Gothicism or Romanticism. Literary terms are explained within the entry, but can also be found in the Glossary.
* Historical Context: This section outlines the social, political, and cultural climate in which the author lived and the novel was created. This section may include descriptions of related historical events, pertinent aspects of daily life in the culture, and the artistic and literary sensibilities of the time in which the work was written. If the novel is a historical work, information regarding the time in which the novel is set is also included. Each section is broken down with helpful subheads.
* Critical Overview: this section provides background on the critical reputation of the novel, including bannings or any other public controversies surrounding the work. For older works, this section includes a history of how the novel was first received and how perceptions of it may have changed over the years; for more recent novels, direct quotes from early reviews may also be included.
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* Sources: an alphabetical list of critical material quoted in the entry, with full bibliographical information.
* Further Reading: an alphabetical list of other critical sources which may prove useful for the student. Includes full bibliographical information and a brief annotation.

In addition, each entry contains the following highlighted sections, set apart from the main text as sidebars:

* Media Adaptations: a list of important film and television adaptations of the novel, including source information. The list also includes stage adaptations, audio recordings, musical adaptations, etc.
* Topics for Further Study: a list of potential study questions or research topics dealing with the novel. This section includes questions related to other disciplines the student may be studying, such as American history, world history, science, math, government, business, geography, economics, psychology, etc.
* Compare and Contrast Box: an "at-a-glance" comparison of the cultural and historical differences between the author's time and culture and late twentieth century/early twenty-first century Western culture. This box includes pertinent parallels between the major scientific, political, and cultural movements of the time or place the novel was written, the time or place the novel was set (if a historical work), and modern Western culture. Works written after 1990 may not have this box.
* What Do I Read Next?: a list of works that might complement the featured novel or serve as a contrast to it. This includes works by the same author and others, works of fiction and nonfiction, and works from various genres, cultures, and eras.

Other Features

DfS includes "The Informed Dialogue: Interacting with Literature," a foreword by Anne Devereaux Jordan, Senior Editor for Teaching and Learning Literature (TALL), and a founder of the Children's Literature Association. This essay provides an enlightening look at how readers interact with literature and how Drama for Students can help teachers show students how to enrich their own reading experiences.

A Cumulative Author/Title Index lists the authors and titles covered in each volume of the DfS series.

A Cumulative Nationality/Ethnicity Index breaks down the authors and titles covered in each volume of the DfS series by nationality and ethnicity.

A Subject/Theme Index, specific to each volume, provides easy reference for users who may be studying a particular subject or theme rather than a single work. Significant subjects from events to broad themes are included, and the entries pointing to the specific theme discussions in each entry are indicated in boldface.

Each entry has several illustrations, including photos of the author, stills from film adaptations (if available), maps, and/or photos of key historical events.

Citing Drama for Students

When writing papers, students who quote directly from any volume of Drama for Students may use the following general forms. These examples are based on MLA style; teachers may request that students adhere to a different style, so the following examples may be adapted as needed. When citing text from DfS that is not attributed to a particular author (i.e., the Themes, Style, Historical Context sections, etc.), the following format should be used in the bibliography section:

"Night." Drama for Students. Ed. Marie Rose Napierkowski. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale, 1998. 234-35.

When quoting the specially commissioned essay from DfS (usually the first piece under the "Criticism" subhead), the following format should be used:

Miller, Tyrus. Critical Essay on "Winesburg, Ohio." Drama for Students. Ed. Marie Rose Napierkowski. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale, 1998. 335-39.

When quoting a journal or newspaper essay that is reprinted in a volume of DfS, the following form may be used:

Malak, Amin. "Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale and the Dystopian Tradition," Canadian Literature No. 112 (Spring, 1987), 9-16; excerpted and reprinted in Drama for Students, Vol. 4, ed. Marie Rose Napierkowski (Detroit: Gale, 1998), pp. 133-36.

When quoting material reprinted from a book that appears in a volume of DfS, the following form may be used:

Adams, Timothy Dow. "Richard Wright: "Wearing the Mask," in Telling Lies in Modern American Autobiography (University of North Carolina Press, 1990), 69-83; excerpted and reprinted in Novels for Students, Vol. 1, ed. Diane Telgen (Detroit: Gale, 1997), pp. 59-61.

We Welcome Your Suggestions

The editor of Drama for Students welcomes your comments and ideas. Readers who wish to suggest novels to appear in future volumes, or who have other suggestions, are cordially invited to contact the editor. You may contact the editor via email at: ForStudentsEditors@gale.com. Or write to the editor at:

Editor, Drama for Students
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