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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: May ::
Re: Stoic Shakespeare; King Lear
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0574.  Friday, 16 May 1997.

[1]     From:   Ron Ward <
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        Date:   Friday, 16 May 1997 11:16:53 +1200 (NZST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0555  Stoic Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 May 1997 20:37:12 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0563  Q: King Lear


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ron Ward <
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Date:           Friday, 16 May 1997 11:16:53 +1200 (NZST)
Subject: 8.0555  Stoic Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0555  Stoic Shakespeare

To Ben Schneider's discusion of S morality:

Some threatening questions to any analysis of S's "morality": Can we
assume any stereotype of Elizabethan morality will be relevant?  Are we
of the opinion that S's "morality" followed or even addressed
stereotypes of the day?  Do we distinguish between social morality
(defined by human law and custom} and an absolute morality which some
believe lies above that?  If we go by internal evidence of the plays
etc. will we not easily confuse the views of the character with those of
the author?  Do we not assume that S had a "moral" message to convey?  S
was the supreme observer of humanity and could he not have let the
doings of humanity tell its own tale?  Did he have an axe to grind?

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 May 1997 20:37:12 +0100
Subject: 8.0563  Q: King Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0563  Q: King Lear

Do you mean 'melancholy' in the Burtonian sense? Is his path
predictable? Probably yes. BUT is this a problem? Is Lear's actual
madness all that important? That he goes mad is, that we see cause and
motive, yes, that he comes out of it and sees some consequences, yes,
that he learns some important truths through it - reason in madness-yes,
BUT the actual pathology of the madness a useful study? Imagery of the
mad scenes is vitally important, and what Lear says to Gloucester in
those clinically bleak chilly beach scenes (see the Scofield /Brook film
of this) is possibly the most crucial stuff he speaks in the whole
play.  So, mad??  Would Shak's definitions of madness be at all helpful
or even acceptable to us today? for an age that paid to see the mad
exercise in Bedlam, descriptions and diagnoses of madness are relative,
perhaps? I am reminded of the spectrum of madness in Hamlet, and the
wonderful shrug of shoulder in the Gravedigger's response to Hamlet that
he was mad 'even with losing his wits'. I think you have a true
minefield here, but a terrifically exciting one. A hand-grenade to
close: how about thinking through the notion that Lear ISN'T actually
made ever in the play? Not in our terms at all? Caused a stir in my
classes. My students think I am totally ...... mad for suggesting such
an idea?

Stuart Manger
 

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