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.


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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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.

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* 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.
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* 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."
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* 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.

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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.

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

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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.

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