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Comparisons of A Thousand Acres and King Lear

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley is a classic novel, which is carefully created in a traditional realist genre.

The play King Lear by Shakespeare shows Lear’s journey to wisdom before his tragic death. The novel by Jane Smiley revisits the classic tragedy through a modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s work. Like Lear who is leaving his crown to his three daughters, Lawrence Larry Cook splits his thousand acres of farm between his three daughters. The parallels between two works allow characters to be depicted with complexity and richness, which is not available in King Lear. The similarities are very obvious – both works show the themes of reconciliation, compassion, and appearance against reality and the role of women in society. The differences of the themes are shown through the main characters of the works: Lear and Larry, Goneril and Ginny, Cordelia and Caroline.

Different characterization of Lear and Larry results in different image of the reconciliation and compassion theme. Lear is an arrogant and foolish man, who grows and learns humility through the play. When Lear is concerned about the fool it shows his change in the character. Lear also worries about the poor and homeless who have no protection. He is more compassionate to their struggles.

Lear’s reconciliation and compassion with Cordelia is contrasted by Larry in A Thousand Acres. Larry, unlike Lear, doesn’t change through his life. He remains arrogant and contemptuous and refuses to acknowledge his abuse and sins of incest. Smiley emphasizes compassion for Rose and Ginny who are products of Larry’s abuse and molest. Larry’s lack of remorse leaves him with no reconciliation with children. He becomes mad and doesn’t recognize Caroline at court.

Both Cordelia from King Lear and Caroline from A Thousand Acres represent the theme of appearance and reality. It is a recurring theme in King Lear. In the beginning, Lear can’t distinguish truth from false flattery and divides his kingdom between Regan and Goneril. He banishes Cordelia for her honest appeal to his love.

However in A Thousand Acres, Caroline’s character is more complex. She also doesn’t get inheritance when she questions Larry’s decision to split the farm. Unlike Cordelia, Caroline is not a good daughter but she has a pure love to her father. She is protected from Larry’s dark side. Caroline doesn’t know of her father’s misdeeds and that is why she judges Ginny and Rose. Caroline’s sisters were trying to save her from the father.

The image of Regan and Goneril in King Lear and Rose and Ginny in A Thousands Acres shows the theme of women in the society.

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley is a classic novel, which is carefully created in a traditional realist genre.

The play King Lear by Shakespeare shows Lear’s journey to wisdom before his tragic death. The novel by Jane Smiley revisits the classic tragedy through a modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s work.

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100002687
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CREATED ON
November 7, 2016
COMPLETED ON
November 8, 2016
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$39
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