2 Lear and old ageDuring Shakespearean period the idea of the King giving up his kingdom to make way for the younger generation was considered absurd. Kings were chosen by God and were expected to reign until their death.Lear – 80, far beyond the life expectancyLear’s announcement that he wants to retire – “Shake all cares and business from our age, conferring them on younger strengths, while we unburthen’d craw toward death” attaches negative stereotype of old age. This negative portrayal is reflected onto Lear by his daughters Goneril and Regan.It could be argued that Regan and Goneril considered his rash decision as a sign of Lear losing his mind due to the “infirmity of his age”Lear begins to be treated as an infantile and powerless figure. He loses his authority over others , thus he later becomes powerless and dependent on others. He fulfils their expectations and the label attached to him (by himself)Illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s in Shakespearian time were not recognised and were viewed as insanity and madness.
3 Young age Edmund, Regan and Goneril – manipulative. Machievellianism - used to describe a person's tendency to be unemotional, and therefore able to detach him or herself from conventional morality and hence to deceive and manipulate others. Reflective of Edmund’s relationship with Gloucester“He who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation.” – The Princesuggesting Lear’s misfortune and suffering are deserved.“The oldest hath born most; we that are young/ shall never see so much, not live so long”. Edgar makes his first proclamation of his rule. He has learned from Lear’s mistakes(The ending of the play is not so cruel because the kingdom is left in the power of Edgar)King James I
4 Quotes “Pray, do not mock me: I am a very foolish fond old man” -Lear “So young and so untender” -Lear“ A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man “ -Lear“I would have made them skip. I am old now, And these same crosses spoil me.” -Lear"You see me here, you gods, a poor old man, As full of grief as age; wretched in both!” –Lear“I am too old to learn” – Lear“O, sir! you are old; Nature in you stands on the very verge of her confine.” - Regan“You are much more attax’d for want of wisdom than prais’d for harmful mildness.” - Goneril
5 Other Shakespeare plays AO3 “When sapless age and weak unable limbs Should bring thy father to his drooping chair.” - Henry VI“To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow An age of poverty.” - The merchant of Venice“Age, with his stealing steps, Hath clawed me in his clutch.” - Hamlet“Crabbed age and youth cannot live together” - The Passionate Pilgrim XIICriticism - ‘The anguish of King Lear’s ‘despised old man’ is timeless’ – The Independent
6 Age vs Youth Development of the characters Gloucester and Lear develop throughout the play, their characters gain wisdom towards the end of the play “I am too old to Learn” - LearGoneril, Regan and Edmund - their malicious views don’t change Ironic “I grow; I prosper” – Edmund