Humanities

Aging and Identity: A Humanities Perspective by Sara M. Deats, Lagretta Lenker

By Sara M. Deats, Lagretta Lenker

Viewing creative works during the lens of either modern gerontological thought and postmodernist thoughts, the contributing students learn literary remedies, cinematic depictions, and creative graphics of getting older from Shakespeare to Hemingway, from Horton Foote to Disney, from Rembrandt to Alice Neale, whereas additionally evaluating the attitudes towards getting older in local American, African American, and Anglo American literature. The examples display that lengthy sooner than gerontologists counseled a Janus-faced version of getting older, artists have been celebrating the range of the aged, tough the bio-medical equation of senescence with inevitable senility. Underlying all of this dialogue is the enterprise conviction that cultural texts build in addition to encode the normal perceptions in their society; that literature, the humanities, and the media not just reflect society's mores yet may also support to create and implement them.

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Prospero as Shakespeare's Well Elder The most obvious themes of The Tempest are political ones. Prospero, as the rightful Duke of Milan, recovers his position and power usurped twelve years earlier by his brother Antonio in league with Alonso, the scheming King of Naples. Equally, Prospero has usurped the remote island of his exile from its first owner, the monstrous Caliban. During the play, rebellion fills the air. 36 THE AGING MALE IN LITERATURE Antonio convinces Sebastian, brother of the King of Naples, to murder Alonso and assume his throne.

When she goes to the neighborhood grocery store, the vice-president in charge of quality control wishes to offer his services. She puts dirty clothes in the washer and gets directions from her live-in corporate efficiency expert. And perhaps most exasperating of all, the wife is expected to serve as an around-the-clock audience for a former executive accustomed to expounding his views to a phalanx of rapt subordinates. As more and more women begin to break through the glass ceiling and assume more prestigious and responsible positions, husbands of retired female executives may begin to share the frustrations that so many wives experience today.

And then, in the last act of the play, something wonderful happens. Reunited with his beloved daughter Cordelia and encircled and succored by her love, Lear reclaims his powers (even as Gutmann [1987], so many years later, asserts that the elderly tend to do). But the power he displays is very different from the authority he so valorized at the beginning of the play. The man who ever but slenderly knew himself receives a dazzling self-awareness: The wrathful bully learns patience; the dictatorial tyrant learns responsibility; and the authoritarian patriarch learns to accept, even cherish, the feminine within himself.

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