In Arguing Lear, Acts III-IV, King Lear concludes that “man is [only] a poor, bare forked animal” (III, 109-110) and, in his madness, explains exactly what this means. As we saw in Arguing Lear, one important feature of the tragedy is that it dramatizes competing ideas and lets them stand on stage together and even to compete against one another, whether by way of rhetoric or dramatic-action, so that we are left to decide whose beliefs most justly reflect the true nature of the world of the play and our actual world, as well. In Dialogue of Disenchantment, please compose your own work of drama – a short play, or philosophical dialogue – to allow the ideas to interact on “stage,” to consort, converse, and compete among themselves. Have at least one character from Lear (or Shakespeare himself), Leviathan (Hobbes, I suppose) and Sense and Sensibility (or Austen), converse in a substantial dramatic scene during which they entertain or sort out some of the stakes in their often complementary visions of the world. You might consider having them all meet in the hovel, where Lear sheltered from the storm with the Fool and Poor Tom, during the storm in Act III; they might meet at Barton cottage. That is entirely up to you, as is the specific content that range of matters that you have the characters engage. Rather than asking you to answer any one question, I invite you to address any number in whatever way seems dramatically compelling. My goals for this assignment are to accomplish three things: 1. Demonstrate as thorough and competent a familiarity with and understanding of the three texts as you can. To that end, whether you quote directly from the texts or not, you should make as many parenthetical citations as you can to indicate where and why the characters are justified in saying what they do and speaking as they do. 2. Use the dramatic form to allow a more freewheeling but nonetheless substantive engagement with the major ideas of our authors. An essay has to prove something; here, you are charged more with making connections between authors and ideas simply to see how they relate or interact. 3. Be inventive. Begin with the ideas of our authors, and be faithful to them, but make something genuinely new, imaginative, and clever out of them. I presume a dialogue of this sort will require more space than the typical academic essay, even if the word count is about the same. I suggest you aim for 6-7 pages.
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