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CPT- Disintegration of Social Order in King Lear and in Disgrace

CPT- Disintegration of Social Order in King Lear and in Disgrace

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Published by: debangshu_1 on Jan 18, 2011
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Dey 1Debangshu DeyMr. BirdENG4U1-0218
January 2011Social Order: The Way to BehaveA Brief Study of Social order in King Lear and in DisgraceAn anarchist is against social order if it denies the illustration of liberty in the simplest of terms. Social order at the expense of liberty is a bargain. Every great civilization was ruled by itsown customs and conventions. Every civilization has had its style. The style is easily visible intheir architecture, paintings, poetry and in their social order. Disintegration of social order can beattributed to one of the factors of the decline of any great empire, whether it be the massiveRoman Empire or the violent Mongolian Empire. In the absence of equality, institutions crumbleat the sight of the vindictive nature of liberators who oppose the oppression. The institution neednot be a rightful one. The fall of authority is evident in King Lear written by WilliamShakespeare and in Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee. In the process of decline of supremacy, certainhuman emotions prevail. They tend to come out of the ordinary. They would have beensuppressed if the jurisdiction of authority had been sustained. The fall of the reign creates a voidwhich the subordinates fill. They tend to rise against oppression resulting in the disruption of thechain of being. The hidden emotions and the rise of subordinates are primary themes in King
Dey 2Lear and in Disgrace. In the absence of social order, the animal instincts prevail and thesubordinates become superior.The triumph of animal instincts over normality is visible in King Lear. The animalinstincts in King Lear are of subhuman nature. They tend to constitute more of Visigothanattitudes than Athenian ones. The excess of Visigothan attitudes of immorality and ingratituderesult in social disintegration. Social order establishes moral code. But when Lear gives up hisauthority, it creates a hole in the fabric through which diabolic attitudes slip into the lives of characters. These inhumane emotions have been personified in the characters of Goneril andRegan. If the analogy of goodness and evil constituting in an individual and the excess of oneover the other determining the character of the person is true , then the daughters wereoverridden by vicious and barbarian attributes. This is easily visible in the animal imagery usedthroughout the play. Animals such as kites, sea monsters and serpents are compared to theungrateful daughters. Lear recognizes the venomous trait of Goneril as he ponders ³how sharper than a serpent¶s tooth it is/ to have a thankless child!´ (Shakespeare, I, iv, 288-9). The animalemotion of being flattered by the masters is also portrayed. King Lear was ³flattered like a do(Shakespeare, IV, iv, 98). He donned the convincing flattery of his daughters. Like a dog, his egowas massaged and caressed. Later, he is dumped into the forest because of his senility. King Lear indicates there is only a subtle difference between animals and humans when he says ³Allow notnature more than nature needs,/ Man¶s life¶s as cheap as beast¶s´ (Shakespeare, II,iv,88-9). In away, humans fall to animal like state if anyone is ridden of their heavenly virtues.
Dey 3The animal instincts in Disgrace are of a different kind than in King Lear. They constitutemore of sexual rather than evil characteristics. David Lurie, the protagonist quits his job at theuniversity because he gets involved in an impulsive affair with one of his females students. He believes ³a woman¶s beauty does not belong to her alone. It is the part of the beauty she bringsinto the world. She has a duty to share it´ (Coetzee, 16). His affair with her was publicized inCape Town. He was called in front of the university inquiry panel. He denied to confess his guiltand instead called himself ³the servant of Eros´ (Coetzee, 51). Thus he fell prey to hisunhindered inclination toward the opposite sex. David retreats to the countryside and hisdaughter. Lucy lives all by herself in post-apartheid Africa. She is surrounded by blacks whowere treated like animals earlier. David justifies sexual instincts of men illustrating theµKenilworth spectacle¶. The µKenilworth spectacle¶ is an incident where a dog was punished for following its instinct whenever a bitch walked by. David says ³desire is another story. No animalwill accept justice of being punished for following its instinct´ (Coetzee, 90). Lucy wonderswhether males should be allowed to follow their instincts unchecked. She questions their morality. Her inquisition of male characteristics is important as she falls prey to the plunderingof sexual ecstasy by three native African men. She lives five hours out of Cape Town in Salem.She lives in a farmland with not much of David¶s impression of µcivilized people¶ around. Theylive ³two hours from the nearest police station´ (Coetzee 156). One can certainly draw up a picture of an ambience absent of any sort of jurisdiction. The inability of the police to apprehendthe three violators instigated resentment in the mind of David. Their inability eliminates the fear of punishment from the minds of the assaulters. This opens a prospect for the men to follow their instincts unchecked. The absence of social order in the vicinity is the prime reason for her rape.

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