Monday, October 6, 2008

King Lear

I finished reading King Lear a few weeks ago. One scene is a torture scene, reminiscent of the one in Reservoir Dogs. This alone makes it worth reading. ;-)

But a scene that I believe to be quite relevant to modern times is the one in which King Lear asks his three daughters to tell him how much they love him. As he's getting ready to divide his kingdom into three parts, giving one part to each daughter so he can retire, you can imagine how much the daughters exaggerate their claims of love for him.

The first, Goneril, goes on quite a bit about how much she loves him, to the point of being ridiculous. The second, Regan, goes even further, topping the first.

Only Cordelia, the youngest, says something more sensible: "I love you according to my bond," meaning she loves him only as much as a daughter is supposed to love a father. She also tells him that once she gets married, he won't be the most-loved man in her life, as that title will go to her husband. (This contrasts with her sisters, who swear eternal devotion to their dad.)

Despite Lear's blustering and threats about giving her portion of the kingdom to her sisters, Cordelia sticks to her guns. As a result, he exiles her to France, and indeed gives her inheritance to Goneril and Regan.

It made me think: How many bosses punish those who refuse to praise and agree with them? I imagine that if CEO's read King Lear, they'd probably recognize themselves -- that is, of course, unless they're so filled with self-adoration that they simply don't think they have anything in common with the king.

spoilers below...

As you can imagine, Goneril and Regan plot to kill dear old dad, while Cordelia is the only one who really loves him.

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