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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: *Lear*
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0706.  Tuesday, 24 June 1997.

From:           Carl Fortunato <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Jun 97 21:05:00 -0400
Subject:        Re: Cordelia

>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.

While there is a great amount of "Christianity" in the play, in many
ways it seems to depict a world a chaos and randomness, that is almost
anti-Christian.  Many people see in Gloucester's famous line:

        "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods.  They kill
        us for their sport."

a summation of the entire philosophy of the play.  And it is
particularly noticeable that Albany says of Cordelia, "The gods defend
her" just before: "*Enter Lear with Cordelia in his arms.*"

This most unacceptable thing in the play - the death of Cordelia - is
the one thing that most enforces this feeling that all is random and
*the gods don't care.*   This, of course, is Shakespeare's own addition
to his source, and is so unacceptable that the ending was usually
changed by editors until fairly recently.

Two questions I have about King Lear (that are unrelated to the
"Christianity" in the play) are:

1) Does Lear die thinking Cordelia is still alive?  and

2) What is Gloster referring to with:

        Edg.    Men must endure
                   Their going hence, euen as their coming hither,
                   Ripenesse is all come on.

        Glo.    And that's true too.

What do you think Gloster is thinking of with "too"?  Perhaps Gloster
just finished reading Hamlet, and he was busy pondering "The
*readinesse* is all"?  Any other ideas?

 -  Carl | 
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