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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: April ::
Re: Cordelia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0471.  Thursday, 17 April 1997.

[1]     From:   Jacqueline Strax <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Apr 1997 09:43:54 +0000
        Subj:   SHK 8.0461  Re: The Fool; Cordelia

[2]     From:   Louis C Swilley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Apr 1997 21:08:39 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0468 Re: Cordelia

[3]     From:   JoAnna Koskinen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Apr 1997 07:37:38 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0468  Re: Cordelia


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jacqueline Strax <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Apr 1997 09:43:54 +0000
Subject: Re: The Fool; Cordelia
Comment:        SHK 8.0461  Re: The Fool; Cordelia

Susan:

I like your post this morning on Cordelia:

>I personally cannot say that I read those lines as Cordelia's
>stubbornness and as someone else pointed out to me recently,
>Goneril and Regan really say absolutely nothing to their father.
 >Goneril says, "Sir, I love you more than word can wield the
>matter,....  A love that makes breath poor and speech unable."
>(I. i. 50, 55) & then Regan says, "In my true heart I find she
>names my very deed of love"(I. i. 65-66) Well then why are they
>still talking? Sounds strange to me.  What I always find ironic
>is that critics who write about the stubborn, frigid, cold,
>unfeeling Cordelia I keep reading about in articles are so very
>much like Lear in their judgment of her.

I guess Regan and Goneril talk for display and in order to contend with
one another for dominance (or what some political analysts call
hegemony).  Although their rhetoric betrays this, Lear fails to catch
it.  Perhaps because he's too busy putting on his own rhetorical display
including maps.  It's as though Lear is trolling his daughters (and
those powerful husbands of theirs) into sharing the burdens of his
kingdom whilst propping up his conceit and his claims to perks and the
dignity of age.

Might see Lear's display as partly a tactic to make sure Cordelia gets
her man so there'll be three reliable males to rule over the daughters
once the deal is done and the land split.  However, Lear, increasingly
as his wracking advances, uses words not merely for display and hegemony
etc. but more like Cordelia does.  This is a bond between them.  Perhaps
that's why as the play opens Goneril and Regan already have husbands
(whom they don't love) while Cordelia's not yet found quite found the
right man to whom she can transfer and with whom she can trust her
affections-the love which till this point she has devoted to her
stubborn father.

Jacqueline Strax

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis C Swilley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Apr 1997 21:08:39 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 8.0468 Re: Cordelia
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0468 Re: Cordelia

Cordelia's reaction to her father's request for a public expression of
her love is stubborn and wrongheaded. She knows her sisters and knows
that their expressions of love are lies; yet they have given her an
avenue for her response which will top theirs and still be true: the
first sister has said that she loves Lear more than anything; the
second, that she loves nothing else but him.  Cordelia could say - would
be expected to say - that she loves everything else because of him.  Not
only would this be true, it is the last step in the development of any
true love (the sisters have given the first two steps).

Someone in these responses has said that Cordelia should humour the old
man and simply lie.  She shouldn't and needn't.

What does she do instead?  She "cannot heave her heart into her mouth",
she says; but then she does.  And when she does, she measures out her
love, just as Lear is foolishly measuring love and dividing the country
according to that measure.  But the curious fact about love is that the
more it is expressed and felt in one direction the more it grows in all
directions - a young woman in love with her lover loves her father (and
everything lovable) the more for that.  But Cordelia?  She will take
"half her love" to her husband!

Cordelia is another Lear, but of a younger, other sex.

In his hotheadedness, Kent is yet another Lear.

The three of them dance the story along to its disaster and their
deaths.

L. Swilley
Houston

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           JoAnna Koskinen <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Apr 1997 07:37:38 -0700
Subject: 8.0468  Re: Cordelia
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0468  Re: Cordelia

This is the sense I get from Cordelia's response as well. She goes on to
say in 1.1.97, "Why have my sisters husbands if they say/They love you
all?" Unfortunately, when I brought this up to my professor, I was told
that I was getting to psychological, but it seems to be quite clear and
appropriate for the age, if you ask me.

JoAnna
 

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