Article

THE CARNIVALESQUE MISRULE IN WILLIAM SHAKESPEARES KING LEAR

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Abstract

The Russian literary theorist Mikhail M. Bakhtin's work on carnival and his interpretative forays into the Medieval literature remain a powerful and seminal task to be revisited. His definition and exploration of carnival as a social and literary phenomenon provides a theoretical framework for many critical analyses of the relationship of social customs and popular dramatic traditions in Shakespeare's comedies as well as tragedies. Shakespeare's King Lear is here scrutinized through the lenses of the Bakhtinian concept of the carnivalesque, as this play creates a carnival of chaos that breaks laws and performs acts of excess. It is replete with the thematics and motifs associated with the Medieval carnivals and festivities that Bakhtin explores when theorizing about the carnivalesque in Rabelais and his World (1984). Major among these motifs are carnivalesque reversals, subversion of authority, masquerades, grotesque body and disguises.

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