Journal Article

Playing Nothing for Someone: <i>Lear</i>, Bottom, and Kenotic Integrity

Larry D. Bouchard

in Literature and Theology

Volume 19, issue 2, pages 159-180
Published in print June 2005 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online June 2005 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/fri018
Playing Nothing for Someone: Lear, Bottom, and Kenotic Integrity

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Tragedy depicts harm to integrity—personal, moral, bodily, even the integrity of nature—and so offers occasions for rethinking the idea of integrity. These occasions may prompt us to set aside notions of pristine wholeness, moral perfection, and solitary authenticity for a more relational integrity, informed by the paradigms of performance and kenosis. This essay first juxtaposes King Lear with a film by Kristian Levring, The King Is Alive, and then moves to Shakespeare's earlier A Midsummer Night's Dream. All three works are metatheatrical, and depict people playing-as-others in solicitude for others. Each in its way broaches the ethical and theological possibility of ‘kenotic integrity’.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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