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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: October ::
Re: Lear
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1061  Thursday, 29 October 1998.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 28 Oct 1998 09:30:55 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1053 Q: Lear

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 28 Oct 1998 19:09:38 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1053  Q: Lear


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 28 Oct 1998 09:30:55 -0800
Subject: 9.1053 Q: Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1053 Q: Lear

Eduardo writes:

> Let me make my question/position a bit more clear. I realize that there
> is a "literal" difference between abdicating title and responsibility
> within the fiction of the play. That is, of course, part of the message;
> that title and responsibility are inseparable. I guess what is not clear
> is how, even within the  fiction of the play, this is something other
> characters would allow/believe/accept.

Basically, I'd say that there's a difference between whether something
is good and whether it's conceivable at all.  There are any number of
Shakespearean kings whose rule is held for them.  This sort of rule by
proxy is usually dire in its results, but nobody seemed to have
conceiving of it.

As for why the characters would allow it, it's in everybody's interests
with the exception of Kent, the Fool, and Cordelia.  They all object.

Cheers,
Sean.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Wednesday, 28 Oct 1998 19:09:38 -0500
Subject: 9.1053  Q: Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1053  Q: Lear

Eduardo del Rio asked

> what Lear "gives up" in 1.1.  It seems clear that he gives up his land
> (1.1.31-32), but then in
> 1.1.43-44 there is: "...we will divest us, both of rule,/Interest of
> territory, cares of state,--" Is this a contradiction to the later
> 1.1.131-32: "Only we still retain/The name, and all the additions to a
> king;"?

Lear wants to retain the dignity and luxury of Kingship (a retinue of a
hundred knights, for example) while sloughing off the cares and
responsibilities.  He wants to be King Emeritus.  To do this he yields
his powers.  In other words, he wants to reign but not rule, long before
the constitutional framework for such a possibility came into being.

Of course, by yielding his powers, he put his dignities and luxuries at
risk, as he soon learns and as the clown seems to observe even before
the actuality materializes. I.iv.172-74 (Riverside).  I believe the
audience was also supposed to anticipate the impossibility of Lear
retaining his ceremonial dignity without the power to lend it substance.
 

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