We recently finished King Lear in our TBG community. The students worked on memorizing the pivotal Act 1, scene 1. They thought they were simply going to perform it in my home, a low-key, comfortable location. Instead, we went over to the old middle-school auditorium (BARC) where they performed it on the brightly lit stage! They did a great job. To conclude our discussion of the play, I read these lines from Charlotte Mason:
Causes which lead to the Abdication of Parents – Here is indicated a rock upon which the heads of families sometimes make shipwreck. They regard parental authority as inherent in them, a property which may lie dormant, but is not to be separated from the state of parenthood. They may allow their children from infancy upwards to do what is right in their own eyes; and then, Lear turns and makes his plaint to the winds, and cries––
‘sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
To have a thankless child!’
But Lear has been all the time divesting himself of the honour and authority that belong to him, and giving his rights to his children. Here he tells us why; the biting anguish is the ‘thankless’ child. He has been laying himself out for the thanks of his children. That they should think him a fond father has been more to him than the duty he owes them; and in proportion as he omits his duty are they oblivious of theirs. (Volume 2, p. 12)
We had discussed the role of parents and children as we went through the play and all agreed that Charlotte summed it up nicely.
Here is the cover page we used!
We read this play 10 years ago, so this was a repeat for some of the students. (Mason’s students would have experienced some plays more than once!) But that was before I was blogging, so I don’t have an old post about it. Back then, we performed the entire play, slightly adapted by Lori Lawing. You can find that adaptation here.
You might also find this Parents’ Review article, Lear and His Daughters interesting.
Our current LEL class has been thinking about authority lately, mostly from Volume 6, chapter 2, “Authority and Docility.” We have been grappling with what it means to be “in authority” vs. “under authority”. Charlotte says, “We know that a person in authority is a person authorised; and that he who is authorised is under authority. The person under authority holds and fulfils a trust; in so far as he asserts himself; governs upon the impulse of his own will, he ceases to be authoritative and authorised, and becomes arbitrary and autocratic.” (Volume 3, p. 12) Which brought to my mind the Donut Man. The song “The Centurian’s Secret” was played over and over when my oldest were young.
A centurian soldier marched up to Jesus
and said, “My good dear servant is so terribly ill.”
Jesus said He’d come quickly but the soldier replied,
“Just say the word & I know that he will be alright
FOR… I, too, am a man under authority.
I say come & they come. I say go & they go.
Oh… I, too, am a man under authority.
Just say the word & I know he’ll be healed as I go.”
The soldier was UNDER authority and he had complete faith in Christ – he understood Christ’s position because he, too, was a man under authority. We as parents are under authority and our children are under authority. Do we view this correctly? What happens when we get this turned around? (And if you need to hear this song, click here.)
Teaching from peace,