A Comparative Analysis of the Characters of King Lear and Hidetora

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Kurosawa and Shakespeare Introduction: The greatest narratives in human history don't just resurface in critical analysis but are also given new life when channeled through modern media. This is well-exemplified by legendary Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's 1985 epic, Ran. The highly regarded and high-budgeted film, based on William Shakespeare's 1606 play King Lear, demonstrates the power retained by the original play even when dramatically recontextualized. Indeed, in a comparative discussion of King Lear and Hidetora, his counterpart in the Kurosawa film, we are confronted with the universal themes of power, mortality, vanity and insanity. These are the themes that connect not just both pieces but the otherwise vastly historical periods and cultures represented within. Compare: The strongest point of comparison between the two characters in question is their mutual descent into mental instability and the degree to which this influences their behavior. Indeed, the common ground in the two stories is at the outset, when an ailing ruler is manipulated into divided his kingdom amongst his children. This division of territories, an event stimulated by individual vanity and infirmity, would have consequences kingdom-wide. The unraveling of civility and familial bonds which would occur thereafter is common to both tellings. Contrast: Perhaps the most important conceptual difference between the fading monarch presented in either story is the degree to which

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