A Thousand Acres is a modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s original play king Lear. I think this book will be interesting to read to see how the author adapts this classic tale to a more modern society. Some connections between King Lear can already be seen in the beginning of the novel. One of the main moments from the play is prevalent in the first forty pages of the book. Larry Cook is a successful aged farmer with three daughters. One day, at an afternoon party, he decides to announce he will be splitting up the farm and forming a new corporation. He seemingly does this without much warning, and expects an instant response from his daughters. His middle daughter Rose quickly agrees, when his youngest daughter Caroline doesn’t seem to agree with the plan. Larry immediately is enraged and storms out of the party. This is a direct connection between the “love Test” seen in King Lear. When King Lear originally divided the kingdom his youngest daughter Cordelia refused to be forced to pronounce her love, this causes King Lear to be enraged and banish her from the kingdom. Later in the novel Ginny, Larry’s oldest daughter, says to Caroline,
“If you don’t calm him down it will be like you were never born, doesn’t that scare you?” ( Smiley, 34)
This mirrors the “banishment from the Kingdom” as seen in King Lear.
There are many other connections in this novel, such as the similar character traits in Larry and King Lear. Larry cook seems to be a heavy drinker, this could be represented as the instantly that king Lear seems to evoke. He also seems to display King Lear’s childlike essence, storming away if he doesn’t get the things he wants. One thing I found interesting besides the connection from King Lear, was the point of view the story is told from. The fact it is told from the oldest daughter’s perspective adds a different dynamic in the story. The older sisters in King Lear are portrayed as vileness and greedy. However, the sisters in this novel seem to be more relatable, and each has a set of their own problems. They almost seem like victims to me. Rose has an abusive husband and a bad marriage. While Ginny has been desperately trying years for children and remains unsuccessful. The older sisters are portrayed more as victims, then evil princess greedy for land and power. I like how the author changes the character values of the novel. Do you think having the sister’s portrayed in a different light effects your interpretation of the story? How does the point of view the story is told from change the dynamic of the novel? What our some other connections you found in the novel and king Lear?
Just a little extra. Throughout the story I found the mass amount of characters slightly confusing. Here are some really interesting character comparisons I found In A Thousand Acres and King Lear!