“No contraries hold more antipathy”: King Lear , Fealty and Epochal Change - Université Paris Nanterre Access content directly
Journal Articles Shakespeare Year : 2018

“No contraries hold more antipathy”: King Lear , Fealty and Epochal Change

Abstract

Critical literature has long identified in King Lear the transition from feudalism to bourgeois values that Shakespeare observed in his own time (Delany) and contrasted the feudal party of Lear with the “nascent capitalism” of the party of Edmund (Danby) and the new Machiavellian man (Colie), whilst Turner challenges the transitionalist view by identifying Edmund as the destructive outgrowth of feudalism’s inner contradictions. The play offers the possibility to view Lear’s partition of the kingdom as the introduction of the law of supply and demand at the heart of the feudal bond. By making his vassals compete with one another, with the largest share allotted to the highest bidder, Lear translates the feudal economy of mutual exchange into market economy. The value of the goods and services on offer fluctuates and love, the currency used in the deal, enters the money market. The opening scene, organized as a formal ceremony of commendatio reasserting fealty simultaneously lays the foundation for the disruption of feudalism. Even before Edmund’s proto-capitalist manifesto, Lear’s transformation of a gift-based into a commodity-based economy is one by which “the social fabric of the group is invariably destroyed” (Hyde).
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Dates and versions

hal-04070067 , version 1 (14-04-2023)

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Anny Crunelle Vanrigh. “No contraries hold more antipathy”: King Lear , Fealty and Epochal Change. Shakespeare, 2018, 14 (2), pp.138-148. ⟨10.1080/17450918.2018.1455734⟩. ⟨hal-04070067⟩
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