By Sara M. Deats, Lagretta Lenker
Viewing creative works in the course of the lens of either modern gerontological concept and postmodernist suggestions, the contributing students learn 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 earlier than gerontologists recommended a Janus-faced version of getting older, artists have been celebrating the range of the aged, not easy 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 replicate society's mores yet may also aid to create and implement them.
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314-315). Thus, even the triumphant aging of Prospero, like all senescence, is shadowed by the penumbra of mortality. Nevertheless, despite the poignancy of its last act, the dominant impression of The Tempest—at least in my reading—remains celebration rather than sadness. I like to think that the evolution from the tragic, vulnerable Lear to the empowered Prospero reflects Shakespeare's own acceptance of aging as he approached the landmark birthday of fifty, not very old today, but considering the life expectancy at Shakespeare's time probably equivalent to around seventy-five in our own society.
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).
Be not disturbed with my infirmity. 158-160) I am a very foolish fond old man, Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less; And, to deal plainly, I fear I am not in my perfect mind. 61-64) During this century, a number of critical studies of aging in Shakespeare have been undertaken. The great majority of these predate 1980; most are from the 1940s. The older pieces in particular conjecture about Shakespeare's outlook on aging and how those attitudes are manifest in various characters in the plays (Draper 1946; Miles 1940; Cox 1942; Chew 1948; Sims 1943).
Aging and Identity: A Humanities Perspective by Sara M. Deats, Lagretta Lenker