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Heaney's Poems and King Lear - Family Ties Are Nothing but Lies - Follower, Digging and King Lear

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In all three of these texts we see the crucial theme of family ties that lies at the

very core of each of the plots. Even though all three of the texts have ‘family ties’

at the very heart of their plots we see that this theme is different in all three. In

the case of Heaney’s poems, ‘Digging’ and ‘Follower’ both tell the story of how a

son cannot relate to his father at first but then by the end of the poem he sees

that he is not so different to his ancestors after all. In Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’

however it is seen from the opening acts that the family bonds that should be

respected and nurtured with love are dismissed by the simple fact that their sons

and daughters are either born with shame for being bastards or disowned for

not ‘respecting’ their father.

Family ties can be perceived in many different ways. Firstly family ties could be

‘legal’ ties formed by laws that oblige family members, especially parents, to look

after and care for their children. Secondly there is the case of ‘cultural’ ties that

are formed by societies. These are unwritten rules made by societies that are

expected to be followed by everyone.

In Heaney’s two poems ‘Digging’ and ‘Follower’ we see that they both follow the

main plot. Both start off telling the story of Heaney as a child when he would look

up to his father and feel proud that he came from such a hard-working family.

In ‘Digging’ it is seen that Heaney respects his ancestors in the quote: “By God,

the old man could handle a spade. Just like his old man.” It is also seen in the very

next stanza when Heaney boasts about how his grandfather could “cut more turf

in a day than any other man on Toner’s bog”. It is clearly visible that he is proud

of his ancestors; he finds comfort in the fact that his family is hard working. The

‘problem’ however is that he has “no spade to follow men like them”. Even

though he cannot follow his ancestors in the way he thought he should he

discovers that he can still be as hard working as them whilst holding a pen

instead.

In ‘Follower’ we still see the same praise coming from Heaney towards his father.

In the beginning of second stanza we see Heaney refer to his father as an ‘expert’

in what he does. Heaney then goes on to explain that he was a “nuisance” he was

towards his father when he was working but then both get older and the roles

reverse, making his father the one that’s always behind him and won’t go away.

In these two poems we see that family ties are not lies to Heaney’s family.

Throughout both poems we see mutual respect coming from Heaney and his

father. Heaney is proud of his family ties as he sees that they are hardworking

people. We see that Heaney’s father respects his son and is proud of his because

in the end of ‘Follower’ he

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