Violence in Edward Bond’s Lear and Saved
We witnessed many kinds of physical and emotional violence in Edward Bond’s play “Lear”. Killings, hatred and betrayal between father and his daughters, tortures, wars, raping, executions and many more. Sometimes language is too simple to describe for this kind of incidents. Bond used many audial stimulants like mourning, crying, screams in order to describe this kind of violent scenes. With all this knowledge we can consider “Lear” as an example of “theatre of cruelty”.
Play begins with an accidental death scene near the wall.
Our title character enters the stage and he saw the dead body. However, Lear is more concerned about the woods that left in the mud. He wants to punish a worker about this crime but later we understand his real intensions are quicken the contraction of the wall. So, he killed the worker, just for giving a message to other workers; work faster. His later attitudes toward the body and killing other worker for quicken construction of the wall are clear indicators the value of human life in this society.
Throughout the play we witnessed physical and emotional violence toward the workers. We can say that they are kind of slaves, they must work or else they will be killed and even if they escape, they will starve to death.
Like his other play “Saved” we have a conflict between a man and his family. Lear has two daughters who turned against him, married with his enemies and together they defeated him in the war. War is one of the intense scenes because we witnessed the cruel torture of Warrington. The sisters tortured him just because they want to hide their conspiration against each other. We need to ask how they become so cruel that, they cut of an innocent man’s tongue and needled his ears. Before we make our judgement, we need to mention the prison scene when the ghost brings sisters souls to the Lear. Bodice and Fontanelle are so different than what we had seen before. They were innocent and pure like a child. They mentioned their mother’s death and we can assume that, this is the breaking point of their lives. After her death Lear became obsessive with his wall, he lost his interest about his fatherhood. Consequently, they become cruel because absence of family and love. They had born innocent like all children, but they become cruel.
Essa in her essay said that “Bond states that violence is not inherent in the human soul but rather a result of the social environment man lives within. He argues that in ourselves there is a capacity for violence motivated by our desire not to be oppressed or exposed to aggression. In order not to be subject to violence man coalesce with the system and become an oppressor himself to relieve himself of the fear. Evidently, the characters in Lear who turned away from their peaceful nature once they were part of the system exemplify this natural impulse in man”. So, this is not in their nature this is matter of the society and people they exposed to, in our play mainly their father Lear.
The tyrant king Lear is one of the cruellest characters at the beginning of the play. Ironically, he is building a wall in order to maintain his freedom. He made terrible things in his past and he knows that he will be hunted for his past behaviours, presumably before he lost his wife. He never done anything to fix his cruel behaviours, he places all his hope into the wall. He sees everyone who outside of the wall as monsters and his enemies. After he is defeated, we saw his awakening from his delusions and his repentance to his crimes. Bond in his preface said that; “Lear is blind till they take his eyes away, and by then he has begun to see, to understand” (Bond 53). Like Bond said after only he lost his eyes, he is capable of seeing the real monster inside him.
In contrast with “Lear”, Bond’s early play “Saved” is more realistic play. Walter Kerr in his New York Times article said that; “Mr. Bond, whose earlier “Saved” was a relatively realistic play that included the stoning of an infant in its carriage, has here become so obsessed with the idea of violence that he has neglected to give it plausible, or even theatrically coherent, organization. Lear, an echo of Shakespeare’s, is a leather jacketed dictator in the year 3100 who is building a wall about his kingdom to protect it from his enemies forever but whose daughters choose to marry his enemies and assault the kingdom -and each other- apparently just to keep the spying, the torture, the “misery, waste and suffering” going.” In fact, he I obsessed with the idea of violence in Lear. In his other play Saved he uses mainly verbal violence over physical violence. Stoning of the baby is most intense incident and it is the climax of the play. In “Lear”
Both plays placed in a social wasteland. Characters are degenerated and they are alienated from their own nature. They are living in hard conditions, poverty and unemployment are at the peak. Parents are forgotten their primary duties, they lost interest in parenthood. They lost hope in future.
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We witnessed many kinds of physical and emotional violence in Edward Bond’s play “Lear”. Killings, hatred and betrayal between father and his daughters, tortures, wars, raping, executions and many more. […]