William Shakespeare 's King Lear Essay

William Shakespeare 's King Lear Essay

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In many popular television shows, themes of scheming, feuding and backstabbing are common because this type of drama attracts audiences and good ratings. The use of malicious dramatic themes in entertainment was common in Shakespeare 's time as well. An aging or sick patriarch with three offspring holds a contest to see which of his children will inherit his “kingdom” does not sound unfamiliar to us. This kind of dramatic plot is featured in both Shakespeare’s King Lear, as well as Fox’s more modern hit television show, Empire.
In Empire, the “patriarch” is Lucious Lyon. He is a successful rapper and record label CEO who, after being diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), must choose one of his three sons to inherit his music company. To add to the drama, his ex-wife, Cookie, appears after spending 17 years in prison and demands her share of the company. In Shakespeare’s play, as a parallel, sickly King Lear must decide which of his three daughters will inherit his kingdom after he dies. His youngest daughter, Goneril, refuses to tell her father how much she loves him after her initial proclamation. "Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;/Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;” She does not want to have a battle to see who can put into words who loves their father more and for this, she is rejected. The two remaining daughters end up betraying him and fighting each other over their father’s kingdom. There are obvious differences between the popular TV show and Shakespeare 's drama. For example, Lyon’s kids seem to only want his “kingdom”, while at least one of King Lear’s daughters seem to sincerely love him. Neither Lyon, King Lear, or their children make good decisions throughout the “proving” ...


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...ch other in Empire is because they are all scheming for their rightful position as their father’s company’s heir. The difference in dress between all the characters represent their standing in both of the works. The King and Lucious are adorned to show their riches. The siblings are dressed in direct correlation with their personality and their standing in their father’s eyes. While i am not sure how the sisters are dressed I am sure that the older sisters were dressed much nicer than the younger sister. The conflicts between characters and the difference in hierarchy that is displayed in the show, Empire, and the play, King Lear, makes them very similar. This not only makes for good TV and for a great on-stage performance but it adds to a very popular canon. Dramatic and familial disagreements are entertaining to watch and can be easy for the audience to relate to.

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