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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: Cordelia and Lear
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0695.  Saturday, 21 June 1997.

[1]     From:   Roger Schmeeckle <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 Jun 1997 14:36:55 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Cordelia

[2]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Saturday, 21 Jun 97 16:31:56 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 17 Jun 1997 to 18 Jun 1997


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger Schmeeckle <
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Date:           Friday, 20 Jun 1997 14:36:55 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Cordelia

> > Louis C Swilley wrote:

> > >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).

Roger Schmeeckle wrote:

> > It would not be true.  To love everyone else because of a person is
> > appropriate language and theology for a Christian's love of God, and
> > other persons because of God's love for them.  But Cordelia recognizes
> > that Lear is not God; hence to love him as her sisters have professed,
> > or to love other persons because of him, would be a form of idolatry.

Louis:

> If I say that I love a person, and because of that love see everything
> else as lovable - and this seems to be what true lovers feel - am I
> idolatrous in my love for that person? Surely not?

Roger:

What true lovers "feel," and the Christian meaning of love, are two
different things.  You seem to be referring to romantic infatuation,
which, though not bad in itself, is not the same as and should not be
confused with true love.  I would argue that true love may or may not be
accompanied by the feelings you describe. Christ said: "If you love God
keep the commandments;" which is exactly what Cordelia did by honoring
but not flattering her father.

Louis:

> Cordelia's possible remarks would be based on the above phenomenon which
> presumably is analogous to one's perfect love of God. My original point,
> perhaps clumsily made, was that a Christian audience would be acutely
> aware of the three *theological* steps and would expect to hear the
> human *analogy* completed by Cordelia. Cordelia does not/need not
> presume Lear to be God to make this point, and make it truthfully.

Roger:

I agree that there is an analogy between love for a human being and love
of God.  But things that are analogous, while similar, are also
different in some aspect.  In this case, I would say that a Christian's
love of God should be absolute, unlimited; love for a human being,
including one's parent, is relative, limited.  Cordelia implies this
when she mocks her sisters' flattering pretensions by referring to the
love they owe their husbands. I do not see this as quantifying love at
all; it is not meant to be taken quantitatively, but figuratively.

    Louis:

> I agree that Cordelia should tell the truth, and I have argued above and
> earlier what that truth is.  It is Cordelia's love for the whole world
> through her love for her father. If she loves him - and her subsequent
> actions indicate that she does - that is available to her.  (This very
> point, by the way, stresses the truth that love is not quantifiable,
> divisable - as both are so stupidly maintaining - in fact, love
> develops, grows by its being given to another).

Roger:

We seem to agree that this is a Christian play.  Christians should not
love the world, although they are commanded to love all other persons,
including their enemies.  I do not know what you mean when you refer to
loving the whole world through her love for her father.  Such a love
seems contrary both to Christianity and to human experience.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
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 >
Date:           Saturday, 21 Jun 97 16:31:56 EDT
Subject:        Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 17 Jun 1997 to 18 Jun 1997

Lear:  Oops.  We're missing something if we see the end of the play in
terms of good / bad dichotomies. The script (scripts) deeply complicate
the options as, for example, when Albany promises that all friends shall
taste the wages of their virtue, and all foes the cup of their
deservings."  Albany himself fought AGAINST Lear and Cordelia.  Does he
get wages or nasty tastes from that awful cup?  That sorting-out is put
aside by Lear's eruption, an answer maybe to Albany's totting-up
accountancy.

Also, there seems to be a slippage of categories in the recent postings
about what kind of guy Lear is as poppa or king. We've seen monsters.
He ain't one. The game he asks the daughters to play is mild and merely
property distribution  compared to the poisoning and other slaughters
elsewhere in life and fiction. Maybe my term as chair has made me more
sympathetic with autocrats; it surely sensitized me to discriminate
between autocrats and murderers.  Nice-guy murderers like Brutus leave
me cold, shivering.  Lear? Along with the Fool and Kent, I'll follow his
track best as I can.  I'll make my own errors, but try to sing with that
passion, energy, and commitment to life.

                    Home from seeing Venice and Athens and Delphi,
                     Steve Urkowitz
 

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