Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Stage, Stake, and ScaffoldHumans and Animals in Shakespeare's Theatre$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Andreas Höfele

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199567645

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199567645.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 December 2020

‘I'll see their trial first’: Law and Disorder in Lear's Animal Kingdom

‘I'll see their trial first’: Law and Disorder in Lear's Animal Kingdom

(p.171) 5 ‘I'll see their trial first’: Law and Disorder in Lear's Animal Kingdom
Stage, Stake, and Scaffold

Andreas Höfele

Oxford University Press

Shakespeare’s arguably most searching investigation into the nature of the human, King Lear, also offers his most varied and polysemous zoology. Older interpretations that see in the play a telos of redemption in which humanity is purified in suffering and ultimately reclaimed from the bestial must founder on the rocks of un-distinction which the play strews out in its staging of order and chaos, sovereign and savage, man and beast. From the initial eruption of Lear’s self-bestializing wrath to the two trial scenes in Act 3, the play exposes the ascendancy of brute force over human ‘kindness’, the regression into a proto-Hobbesian state of nature revealing the bestial wildness lurking in the very core of the social order. This trajectory of bestialization intersects with a perception of the animal not as an emblem of human degeneracy but as fellow creature.

Keywords:   law (and disorder), sovereignty, torture, animal trials, bestialization, human-animal boundary, Shakespeare, King Lear, Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Jean Bodin (on sovereignty)

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .