Bond, unhappy with the ‘idea of total resignation’ which he believed Shakespeare's King Lear to propound, decided ‘to rewrite it so that we now have to use the play for ourselves, for our society, for our time, for our problems’. Using an epic structure, forcefully minimalist language, and his notorious ‘aggro-effects’ like the blinding of Lear, Bond created a contemporary masterpiece, in which the Wall stands as a symbol of oppression justified in the name of national defence (a clear reference to the nuclear deterrent on which post-war world powers depended). After Lear's tyrannical rule is replaced first by his daughters then by the Stalinist figure of Cordelia, he is faced with the choice between withdrawing from political life, embracing the violent rule and maintenance of the wall by Cordelia, or making a powerful non-violent political gesture by inviting death as he begins to dismantle the wall. It is a small but not futile gesture, and at least one worker ‘looks back’. It is a myth for our age, expressing what Bond has called ‘pessimistic optimism’.
Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).
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Edward Bond (b. 1934) English dramatist