Love, Friendship, Loyalty in William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream and King Lear

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In William Shakespeare’s (1564-1616) attempt to explore themes of love, friendship and loyalty in his plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1600) and King Lear (1603-1606), there is distinct and constant portrayal of these themes classified of inconsistencies. It is crucial to understand that the historical context of Shakespeare’s writing is important in grasping a true understanding of the inconsistencies that exists in love, friendship and loyalty. Writing during the time of the renaissance, Shakespeare’s critical writing of such themes is of great importance in understanding the new socio-political framework of the early modern English times. Shakespeare therefore presents a new kind of paradigm for human relations unearthing past…show more content…
Lear speaks; “Give me the map there. Know that we have divided in three our kingdom… which of you shall we say doth loe us most,/ That our largest bounty may extend” (1.1). By dividing his realm, Lear, Francis Barker argues, simultaneously “disarticulates the order of the family,” contravening those “necessary bonds of nature” that in a monarchy support “the political anatomy of the king’s body.” Body, family, land, ruler, and the corpus politicum so substantially interrelate and imply one another that, Barker argues, “It is with the same gesture of division that Lear fissures his kingdom, his family and his reason” (Traub 51). Identifiably, one may argue that the manner in which Lear opts to divide his kingdom among his three daughters is rather ridiculous and is vulnerable to fraud and dishonesty as we have come to see. Additionally, this was unacceptable to the standards of the Elizabethan society. In essence, to communicate the theme of love as it rests on the bribe of a division of the kingdom is a profession of how little regard there is of true expression of love and how love is able to be bought and not felt. Upon his request to have his daughters speak of how much they love him, his ‘fair’ Cordelia is observed as mere disappointment to Lear. She refuses to ‘heave my [her] heart into my [her] mouth” to acquire her dowry and engage in a marriage so superfluous and

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