Title

The politics of framing age in King Lear

Document Type

Presentation

Publication Date

2-25-2016

Abstract

While the binary struggle between "the young" and "the old" has dominated the critical tradition surrounding Lear's age, this talk examines his age through early modern ideas of the contested boundaries separating a patriarch's powerful, "green old age" from his impotent dotage. As the cultural meanings of age were difficult to control, and yet crucial to the operations of early modern political authority, the play shows how an old man's physical decay could become a political fact before it was a biological one. In so doing, King Lear gestures more broadly towards the ideological blind spots of patriarchal authority in early modern England.

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