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Sample - Comparative Literature | King Lear vs. The Things Fall Apart

Literature comparison essay sample

Comparative Literature

Analyzing King Lear an The Things Fall Apart, it is possible to see some common themes raised in the novels, like parent-children relationships, betrayal, honesty and eager for power. Both novels raise these questions from quite different historic and geographic perspectives. 

King Lear is a novel about Royal family and if filled with drama, love and intrigue. Shakespeare from the very beginning creates the parallel between the two plot lines. The play opens with the tragic turning point on the very first scene. The whole story is about the cause and consequence. 

Both Goneril and Regan are hypocrites. Shakespeare demonstrates it with a trick of a dialogue and talking-to-the-audience part, when both of them say sweet and nice things to their father, and to the audience they reveal what they truly think about it. Especially, this is quite apparent when Lear realizes that he cannot give away the power. Both girls still demonstrated love to him, but truly had disrespect to their father and compared him to a demanding parent(Shakespeare). 

If to consider the interactions between Goneril, Lear and Kent, it is apparent that the parent-shied relationships between Goneril and Lear failed due to the evil and greedy nature of Goneril, as she constantly lies to the father and tries to hide her evil inside. At the beginning of the play Lear seemed to be decent and well-thinking, however, the cruelty of his two daughters seem to make him sunken in the madness, probably because of the high expectations he had for his daughters(Shakespeare). 

Kent is honest with Lear and serves honestly. Shakespeare demonstrated such a sad story, when children betray parents, willing to kill them for power, there are still honest people like Kent, who will stand by your side till the end no matter what (Shakespeare).  

In Things Fall apart, Achebe managed to approach his novel from three different Aristotelean unities - action, time and place in order to achieve the double movement of the plot. The novel has the narrative periods of time, and focus on them according to the sequence - Okonkwo and his life before the exile, seven years of exile and his suicide (Achebe).

Okonkwo and Nwoye’s parent-child relationships were not ideal. Okonkwo considered Nwoye to be weak and feminine and that is why abused him all the time. Okonkwo sees a lot of his own father in Nwoye and this irritates him, as he had very little respect for this man. Some words Okonkwo says to Nwoye could be offensive, as he often criticized him for being unmanly(Achebe).  

Okonkwo had some high expectations for Nwoye, already planning a future for him. He described Nwoye as the one, already showing some signals of laziness and, therefore, criticized and abused his son in order to make him tougher. Nwoye betrays his father when converts to Christianity, not being able to forgive his father for killing his adopted brother(Achebe). 

Okonkwo could be compared to Lear somewhat, by having high expiration for their children and willing to transfer the power and ruling to them. However, unlike Goneril, Nwoye is different inside and is willing to become a missionary. Just like Regan and Goneril betrayed King Lear with their cruelty and eager for power, Nwoye betrayed his father for not meeting his expectations and converting to a different religion.


Works cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor, 1994. Print.

Shakespeare, William. King Lear. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. Print.