Jane Smiley's "A Thousand Acres": A Feminist Revision of "King Lear" Thesis

thesis or dissertation chair

fiu authors

  • Lombardic, Diana


  • Jane Smiley retells the tale of “King Lear” through the perspective of one of the evil sisters, in her novel “A Thousand Acres”. While the literary canon places William Shakespeare and his plays at the top of the list, I disagree that the canon should denote what is considered “classic” and what would be disregarded. Jane Smiley's novel is not canonized, but why? Her feminist revision of “King Lear” answers why Goneril and Regan were so evil. I argue that “King Lear” (both the text and the play) does not provide the evidence of dysfunction that Smiley's novel exhibits. “A Thousand Acres” opens up questions about gender formation, issues that are misrepresented and occluded in Shakespeare's “King Lear”. By bringing the trauma of incest to the forefront of the novel, its reverse emotional structures allow the reader to obtain a new perspective to a complex four-century-old play.

publication date

  • June 3, 2014


  • Analysis
  • English
  • Feminism
  • Jane Smiley
  • King Lear
  • Literature
  • Shakespeare

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)