Antitheses: King Lear and A Thousand Acres

The play King Lear and the novel A Thousand Acres can be compared and contrasted in many ways.For example, each work's plot involves a struggle over land.Both also deal with the ousting of a father figure.Another comparable element in each work is the illegitimate courting of women by a newly arrived, enigmatic son.In King Lear the son is Edmund, a bastard of the Earl of Gloucester, a son who, Gloucester admits, came "something saucily to the world before he was sent for" (KL 1.1.21-22), Gloucester still believes "the whoreson must be acknowledged" (KL 1.1.24).On the other hand, Jess Clark, one of two sons of Harold Clark, is nothing of a bastard.Rather, the absence of Jess comes from his conscious choice to leave his home to avoid the Vietnam War draft.Jess returns many years later, of his own volition. These two men, while being comparative characters, have little in common besides sharing an absence from the lives of the other characters in each respective work.These two literary figures could be fairly seen as antitheses of each other, whose differences can be seen by examining each man's circumstance, desires, and actions.
First, Edmund's circumstance is a precarious one.His situation in life seems to be filled with barriers because of his illegitimacy.He, however, not only uses this fact of life to his advantage, but also disregards his illegitimacy.He believes that "if not by birth, have lands by wit" (KL 1.2.187).Edmundfirst questions the immorality of being a bastard and being the younger of the Gloucester's two sons by thinking to himself, "Lag of a brother?Why bastard?Wherefore base?When my dimensions are as well compact, my mind as generous, and my shape as true, as honest madam's issue?Why brand they us with base?With baseness?Bastardy?" (KL 1.2.6-10).Edmund then goes on to beguile his father into believing that Edg…


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