IOC Review: TEWWG and King Lear

Discuss Hurston’s use of structure in her novel. Consider narration, point of view and type of novel as a part of this question. Hurston purposefully uses narration and point of view in Their Eyes Were Watching God as a tool to highlight the stark differences between Janie’s husbands and thereby develop double standard for the men of the novel.
To what extent does Hurston break barriers in this novel? (Social barriers? Gender barriers? Racial barriers?) And how does this develop her subject and/or theme? Although Their Eyes Were Watching God was and continues to be a powerful novel because of its bold depiction of current issues, Hurston does more to break social and gender barriers than she does racial barriers.
How powerfully–or not–would you say Hurston’s use of setting affects the events or actions of the novel? In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston uses setting as a way to track Janie’s maturity in connection to her marital state, further emphasizing her ability to break social and gender barriers.
How does Hurston use motifs and an extended metaphor to develop her subject and/or theme? Extended metaphors and motifs in Their Eyes Were Watching God are disguised with deeper meaning as not to take attention away from Janie’s developmental journey but rather subtly bring light to certain subjects, including sexuality (bees and hair) and oppression (mule and white house).
How does Hurston use minor characters to affect the novel, Janie, and the message(s) she wants the reader to understand? In Their Eyes Were Watching God, minor characters like Phoeby, Nanny, Mrs. Turner, and Nunkie serve as the persistent force that urges Janie to confront and overcome the controlling attitude against her throughout the novel.
Considering the novel was written in the 1930s and takes place in the late 1800s/early 1900s, is this novel still relevant today? Hurston boldly comments on the persistence of female, African-American stereotypes of the time while also breaking gender and social barriers in Their Eyes Were Watching God, and her literary execution of portraying those stereotypes endures because of the memorable storytelling and technique.
How emotionally or intellectually satisfying did you find the conclusion of Hurston’s novel? The conclusion of Their Eyes Were Watching God is emotionally satisfying due the peaceful and resigned manner by which Janie’s journey ends, albeit not intellectually satisfying because of Janie’s decision to return to Eatonville rather than start over somewhere else.
How are the conventions of a drama important to understanding King Lear? Shakespeare purposefully uses dramatic structure and dramatic irony in King Lear as tools to reassert its belonging in the tragic genre as well as develop the character of Cordelia in a way that allows her to be a protagonist and fallen hero.
How do motifs enhance themes or characters within King Lear? The motif of madness versus sanity goes hand-in-hand with the theme of the young and elderly making unfair assumptions about one another, with both accentuating how deception plays a large, impactful role in the outcome of many characters’ decisions.
One theme in King Lear is that power and money leads to the corruption of mankind In what ways is this theme important in the play? In Shakespeare’s King Lear, the theme of power and money leading to the corruption of mankind is deliberately used as a tool to highlight the younger characters’ disloyalty and heighten the tragedy of Cordelia’s death.
One theme in King Lear is that favoritism and manipulation often lead to chaos and destruction. In what ways is this theme important in the play? In Shakespeare’s King Lear, several characters’ manipulative actions lead to three main and interconnected conflicts centering around power, love, and loyalty, thereby showcasing how favoritism and manipulation lead to chaos and destruction.
One theme in King Lear is that both the young and elderly often make unfair assumptions about each other. In what ways is this theme important in the play? In Shakespeare’s King Lear, the young and elderly making unjustified assumptions about each other is brought to light through the younger generation’s desertion of traditional roles in favor of manipulating members of the older generation.
Compare and contrast the two main family relationships in King Lear. What does it tell us about relationships and the overall meaning of the play? The family dynamic within both families in King Lear serves as the driving force for much of the chaos within the play. Both Lear and Gloucester reject the value of a genuine familial relationship in favor of artificial admiration, however whereas Lear appears to be in more peril due to his declining mental health, Gloucester is simply a victim of vengeful manipulation.
In King Lear, examine the roles that characters have and how they fulfill, transcend, or disregard those expectations. Although genuine devotion appears to be largely overlooked in Shakespeare’s King Lear, Kent, Cordelia, and the Fool are all characters who transcend their traditional roles in order to maintain loyalty to Lear and protect him from the scornful motivations of the darker characters.
In what ways does Shakespeare use disguises to reveal profound truths about characters in King Lear? Shakespeare boldly uses disguises in King Lear to comment on the notion of unyielding loyalty as well as the obscurity of the lower class, specifically through Kent and Edgar, who take on new personas to protect Lear and Gloucester from the scornful motivations of darker characters.
How emotionally or intellectually satisfying did you find the ending of King Lear? The conclusion of King Lear is not emotionally fulfilling purely because of Cordelia’s tragic demise, yet it is intellectually so due to Lear’s final, eye-opening realization of Cordelia’s innocence as well as the satisfying distribution of power between the few characters who live through the deadly conclusion.

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