King Lear

The Old Doth Falls: The Subjectivity of Nature and the Emergence of Morality in Lear

The Christian kings of England could suppose a "divine right" imposed by "natural order" in order to legitimize their place in the feudal hierarchy, a view bolstered by Christ's admonishment to "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's" (Matthew 22:21) and various other Biblical representations and endorsements of worldly rulers. In a pre-Christian society, the legitimacy of rulers could not be so easily predicated on this concept of an ordained nature of the world, with one metaphysical Lord atop one secular Lord atop Man. Yet in such a society, "Nature" maintains its value as a term connoting "order," how things simply are. The qualities of Nature are thus induced from experience and a sense of propriety: filial duty is "Nature," kinship is "Nature," moral behavior is "Nature," stability is "Nature," sanity is "Nature" and the physical world itself is simply "Nature." The problem is that in the absence of a scriptural definition, these are all subjective notions, each representing part of a certain dialectic of human society. Depending on the experiences of the beholder, "Nature" can just as...

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