Humanities

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

By Sara M. Deats, Lagretta Lenker

Viewing creative works in the course of the lens of either modern gerontological thought and postmodernist innovations, the contributing students research literary remedies, cinematic depictions, and inventive photos 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 reveal that lengthy sooner than gerontologists counseled a Janus-faced version of getting older, artists have been celebrating the range of the aged, difficult the bio-medical equation of senescence with inevitable senility. Underlying all of this dialogue is the company conviction that cultural texts build in addition to encode the traditional perceptions in their society; that literature, the humanities, and the media not just reflect society's mores yet may also aid to create and implement them.

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184-187). Prospero seems to realize that no matter how much he provides for his child, certain hard lessons of life will have to be learned on her own. Nonetheless, Prospero's emotional state is one of sadness at life changes, not one of disabling depression. Prospero feels the effects of advancing age, but does not succumb to them. Similarly, Prospero experiences mild forgetfulness. This occurs in act four, scene one, during the performance of the masque, when Prospero remembers Caliban's rebellion: "I had forgot that foul conspiracy/ Of the beast Caliban and his confederates/ Against my life.

Whereas Lear is rendered vulnerable by age, Prospero is empowered through his magic; unlike Lear who rants helplessly at the storm, Prospero bends the tempestuous forces of nature to his commands. Yet ultimately Prospero willingly surrenders his omnipotent power; revising the trajectory of Lear, he gives up absolute authority to assume responsibility. He resigns from his role as omnipotent magus to take on a new endeavor; retirement thus becomes for him not a finale but a new beginning. Moreover, by retiring from isolation on a sequestered island to active participation in social governance, Prospero reverses the progression espoused by "disengagement" theorists, who view withdrawal from social activities and duties as an important aspect of "normal" old age (Cumming and Henry 1961).

Due to the potency of Prospero's magic, neither plot comes to fruition. Prospero controls the actions of every character in the play in order to enact his return to authority. Yet amid the political debates of Shakespeare's drama exists a telling account of aging as well. Prospero is dominated by two equally urgent motivations: his need to avenge himself politically and his need to prepare himself for later life, particularly with regard to situating his daughter Miranda in an advantageous marriage with Ferdinand, the Prince of Naples.

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