Examining the Role of Power in the Downfall of Human Society through King Lear and Survival in Auschwitz

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Authors
Goulet, Elaina
Advisor
Greiner, Katherine
Editor
Date of Issue
2023-04-28
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Title
Examining the Role of Power in the Downfall of Human Society through King Lear and Survival in Auschwitz
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Presentation
Description
Abstract
The destructive quality of power can be seen in both Shakespeare’s King Lear and Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz. While King Lear is a fictional story depicting a family destroyed by power, the message underlying the story is very real. King Lear’s daughters, Goneril and Reagan, both fight for the power their father handed over, and in doing so lose sight of meaningful relationships, as well as the value of a human life. This leads to the collapse of the entire kingdom. The devaluing of human life due to power can also be seen in the nonfiction work Survival in Auschwitz, which retells the horrors of the concentration camps during WWII, in which prisoners slowly lost touch with their own humanity. In Survival in Auschwitz, Primo Levi shows how the power structure in the concentration camps were linked with the amount of humanity the prisoners were able to hold on to. While King Lear is fictional and Survival in Auschwitz nonfictional, both show the destructive aspect of power. This is explored in this presentation by analyzing the greed of Goneril and Reagan, as well as the struggle to survive in Auschwitz, and how these uses of power may lead to the downfall of society.
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Semester
Spring
Department
Honors Scholars Program