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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: February ::
Re: Cordelia and the Fool; Leontes "O she's warm..."
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0202.  Wednesday, 12 February 1997.

(1)     From:   Tai-Won Kim <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Feb 1997 22:11:37 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0198  Re: Cordelia and the Fool

(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Feb 1997 17:37:58 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0198  Re: Cordelia and the Fool

(3)     From:   L. Fargas <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Feb 1997 11:51:05 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: Leontes "O she's warm..."


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tai-Won Kim <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Feb 1997 22:11:37 -0500
Subject: 8.0198  Re: Cordelia and the Fool
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0198  Re: Cordelia and the Fool

At 09:58 AM 2/12/97, Thomas Larque wrote:

>The only thing is that he DOES have to tell them first.  There is no indication
>of any kind in KING LEAR that Cordelia is disguised as the Fool.  There is no
>line that even suggests such a thing clearly enough for a live audience to
>understand it.  As a result it seems almost impossible that this is what was
>intended.

How about Frank Ford in <The Marry Wives of Windsor 2.2> where he disguises as
Master Brook? In fact, Ford reveals his identity in a soliloquy at the end of
the scene. The revelation comes last, rather than first. Certainly, the
audience may realize that the guy is in fact Ford even before he admits his
disguise. The stage direction about his disguise, according to the Arden
edition, is not in the Folio, but in the Quarto and Theobald. Anyway, it
doesn't matter because Thomas doesn't seem to bear in mind stage directions
when he said "[Shakespeare] DOES have to tell them the first." So, at least in
this example, he seems to be wrong.  I'm not just finding fault with his
wording--"first," though. I think the convention of disguise in Shkaespeare is
more complicated than Thomas figured out.

More than that, I think we should not mix up two different issues of "disguise"
and "doubling." Of course, it is true that, more than often, we may notice both
of them mixed and combined in the same scene. However, we cannot dissolve the
two distinctive conventions into a homogenous category, particulary in this
case of Cordelia and Fool. How about consulting David Bevington?

Tai-Won Kim
University of Florida

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Feb 1997 17:37:58 -0500
Subject: 8.0198  Re: Cordelia and the Fool
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0198  Re: Cordelia and the Fool

I wrote:

>>But disguise in Shakespeare's plays seems to be absolute. When a woman puts on
>>man's clothes, not even her father can recognize her, let alone the man who
>>says he loves her--witness <<italic>As You Like It.<</italic> In <<italic>Two
>>Gentlemen<</italic>. . . .

And Thomas Larque objects:

>But then the theory that Cordelia disguised herself as the Fool is
dependent on

>Shakespeare having broken his own conventional use of disguises. Neither of
>the examples that you give are of somebody being disguised as another
>identifiable person.  These people are concealing their own identities, rather
>than seeking to pass themselves as somebody else.

Kent passes himself off as Caius.  My class pointed out today that Kent (razed,
beardless) disguised as Caius is "unrealistic."  I asked them, "If I shaved,
would you recognize me on Friday?"  "Sure," said Joe Voss, "we'd recognize your
voice."

In the later plays, Shakespeare recurrently violates the conventions he had
helped to establish. That seems to have been the way he was as a playwright.
Think of <italic>The Winter's Tale</italic> where the audience is NOT in on the
secret, and where Time comes in to tell us how much time has passed.  Where has
he done this before in his career?  The Chorus in <italic>Henry V</italic>?
And Shakespeare's use of the Chorus is itself a fairly new departure. Think of
<italic>Pericles</italic> and Gower.

In other words, Shakespeare liked to play with form and conventions.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Fargas <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Feb 1997 11:51:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Re: Leontes "O she's warm..."

David Evett wrote concerning these lines from The Winter's Tale:

> A speech such as Leontes' "O, she's warm! / If this be
> magic, let it be an art / Lawful as eating"

thay they

> work[] through 5 substantives (she, warm, art, law, eating) that must
> have counterparts in any natural language and significance in the
> constructs of any human culture...

I have to take issue with this premise.  "Art" and "law" are abstractions and
may very well not appear until rather late in a language's development, and
could need another phase to be differentiated one from the other, especially in
a shamanistic society.

My favorite example of this is the development of 'rhythm' and 'rhyme' as
separate concepts:  both abstractions were drawn from a Greek verb, rhein, (old
rhuein), 'to flow,' which in turn derives from an Indo-European root 'sreu' to
flow, with a particular application of 'to bubble-flow.' While it does not
appear in Partridge or Shipley, here's why I think that Indo-European root
"sreu" -- or perhaps its yet-unidentified predecessor -- was a very concrete
word indeed: it is basic Boy Scout lore that drinking water in the wild is
likeliest to be potable if it had run over rocks for a quarter mile or so.
High school biology taught that this was because not only would it have been
free-running, but it would have been additionally oxygenated (purified) by the
shallowness. So 'sreu' was a way to say:  water safe to drink.

It's a long way (perhaps thousands of years) from that "natural language"  to
great abstractions.

A second observation about this quote is that "warm/art/eating" can all be
argued to be working at the level of puns, as well, and that's a level of
linguistic play that has to wait for a very civilized period.

L. Fargas
 

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