William Shakespeare demonstrated many themes throughout his tragedy, King Lear. These themes were also used in Jane Smiley's, A thousand Acres. Smiley wrote her novel using the same storyline and similar themes as Shakespeare did; with specific emphasis on the theme of chaos/inversion of the natural order. Changing the setting, time, character's names, and small events, Smiley finished her novel with an extreme comparison to Shakespeare's Lear. The main theme of inversion of the natural order is apparent in both the play and the novel, with three main examples in the play. The first example of this is near the beginning when Lear reveals he is splitting up his kingdom among his three daughters. This leads to the daughters ruling the kingdom while their father is still alive. Another example of inversion of the natural order in Shakespeare's play is the fact that each daughter ends up dead before her father. This is a contradiction to the natural order of dying, the parent should not be alive to see his/her offspring die. Even though these examples come from the play, they are also evident in A thousand Acres as well.
At the opening of the play, Lear decides to split his kingdom between his three daughters; this is the first time the reader is exposed to the theme of inversion of the natural order. It was not a common occurrence for a king or ruler to give away power; power was only achieved by succeeding a king or ruler in a royal family. So, when Lear informed his daughters they would be sharing the power of his kingdom, they were shocked and greedily tried to convince their father who should have the most power by explaining each one's love for her father, Goneril states, "Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter- (I.i). However, in difference to the play, the novel reveals that when the father, Larry, informs his daughters of his decision to split up his farm among each of them, he does not ask for praise.