“Albany: How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell. Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well” (Shakespeare 31).
As Albany ended Act 1 Scene 4 in this manner, the plot came to a standstill. Questions emerged: Will the dilemma between Goneril and Lear be resolved? Or are family ties going to further deteriorate? Albany’s last lines may represent a transfer of power. As Goneril grew up, she watched Lear overpower others by force to reach satisfaction. Now that Goneril is not pleased with her father and rules with her inherited power, she is attempting to use power to resolve conflict. However, it is in question whether the use of power is the ultimate solution. As a reader, this passage is very relatable. Even though the setting and era of Shakespeare’s King Lear immensely differs from today’s world, this same scenario occurs even within our own lives. Have you ever gone too far in a situation and have had a family member, friend, or mentor bring that to your attention but yet ignore their warning? For this reason, these lines spurred my own self-reflection process. Deeper questions included: How does one know when they have overreacted? Can those watching a conflict rationalize more clearly than those living it? Overall, the takeaway of Albany’s ending lines may be that power is not the solution for everything.
This idea that power does not always resolve conflict appears between Sony Pictures Entertainment and North Korea regarding the release of the digital film, The Interview. The Interview is a controversial 2014 American comedy film about journalists that are instructed to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after booking an interview with him. As dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-un is accustomed to ruling by power and force. When attempting to forbid Sony Pictures Entertainment from releasing The Interview, he did so by using intimidating threats. However, North Korea’s use of power did not resolve the conflict. Instead, it made matters worse. Due to Sony Pictures Entertainment rebelling against North Korea by releasing the film, tension now lies between the U.S and North Korea. In relation to Shakespeare’s King Lear, the possibility of making matters worse when using power to resolve a conflict is what Albany fears for Goneril. Questions up for discussion are: Is Goneril abusing her inherited power? Will Lear rebel? Should Goneril listen to Albany? Does power heal or destroy?