For ages, association between human and the animal world has been used in many literary works. Cutting across the barriers of centuries, in both Timothy Findley's fiction The Wars and William Shakespeare's immortal play King Lear, such association prevails to depict the humane qualities of the animal world (The Wars) or the beastly greed and the insatiable hunger of human beings (King Lear).
The protagonist Robert Ross is strongly associated with animals, revealing many similarities between human beings and animals. Even if Findley believes that there is no difference between a human and an animal, he asserts that only human species are pointlessly cruel. While he runs with the little coyote, Robert watches coyote spotting two small ground squirrels and that it "didn't even come down off its toes. And when it came to the place where the gophers had been sitting, neither did it pause to scuffle the burrows or even sniff them" (The Wars, 26), stressing that animals kill only when it is needed. Humans, in contrast, kill unnecessarily. A young German soldier gives Robert a chance to flee death, which he accepts. Yet, when the German all of a sudden take off, a scared Robert shoots him only to understand later that he has made a blunder. Quite the opposite happens in King Lear. At the beginning of the play, Goneril (the eldest daughter) and Regan obey their Father King Lear's request demanding their unflinching love for him. Goneril says that she loves him
Yet, once they have received their share of property and riches from their father, their behavior towards him changes. Goneril almost at once finds faults with Lear's behavior to the extent that it irks Lear much as to call her a 'detested kite' (Act I Scene IV, line 286) and he shouts:
"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child!" (Act I, Scene IV, Line 312).
When Lear speaks to Regan about Goneril's insolence, he compares it to animal actions,
'Thy sister's naught. O, Regan, she hath tied
Sharp -toothed unkindness, like a vulture, here.' (Act II Sc. IV, 124-125)
Lord Albany also compares the two sisters to animals calling them, "Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform'd"(Act IV, Sc.II, 47) and names Goneril a 'gilded serpent". All of these images are of carnivorous animals that gratify their hunger by eating others. A comparison similar to Edmund's adherence to animal nature, these three symbolizing Albany's feeling that 'Humanity must perforce prey on itself, / Like monsters of the deep.' (Act IV, Sc. II, 46-50,) Animal taste disgraces of both Regan and Goneril, just like Edmund; both longing for Edmund as he notes, 'To both these sisters have I sworn my love, / Each jealous of the other as the stung are of the adder' (V.i.55-7), a distrust that directs to their deaths, Goneril killing Regan to commit suicide thereafter. When Lear rejects Cordelia he calls upon both the divinity and the natural world avowing
by the sacred radiance of the sun,
The mysteries of Hecate and the night,
By all the operation of the orbs
From whom we do exist and cease to be,
So as to disown all of his fatherly ...
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