What Can Love Accomplish?: The Constructive and Destructive Impacts of Love on the Self in Their Eyes Were Watching God and King Lear

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Authors
Gnoyski, Alyssa
Advisor
Street, Alex
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Date of Issue
2022
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Title
What Can Love Accomplish?: The Constructive and Destructive Impacts of Love on the Self in Their Eyes Were Watching God and King Lear
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Abstract
Their Eyes Were Watching God and King Lear display many different types of love. While King Lear explores familial love, Their Eyes Were Watching God delves into romantic love. As Janie pursues her romantic interests in Their Eyes Were Watching God, she discovers an overwhelming love for Tea Cake. Believing she has reached the realization of her deepest desires, Janie finds herself mistaken when the relationship fails. Yet, in the aftermath, she blossoms into a new individual, at which point she reaches happiness. On the other hand, King Lear follows the gradual deterioration of fathers Lear and Gloucester as their relationships with their children are riddled with betrayal. Disowning the only daughter who loves him and suffering from the traitorous acts of his other two daughters, Lear slowly sinks into madness. Likewise, Gloucester betrays the loving loyalties of his son Edgar in exchange for his manipulative son Edmund and dies as a result of the betrayal. Love and the betrayal of love, as seen within both works, ultimately cause a transformation of the individual. While love achieves individual maturation, it always contains the associated risk of betrayal, which (if strong enough) brings about the opposite effect. In Janie’s case, relational love functions as a rebirth and serves to accomplish personal growth; yet, for Lear and Gloucester, relational love is largely synonymous with destruction, for the betrayals that arise from their loving relations override the love doted upon them and break them down until there is nothing left.
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Honors Scholars Program