The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0274 Wednesday, 17 February 1999.
Date: Tuesday, 16 Feb 1999 13:26:12 -0000
Subject: Cordelia is to Lear as Ophelia is to Polonius
I've come across a provocative comparison between an element of Lear and
one of Hamlet, and don't know whose idea it is. Do you recognise it? If
you don't, would you mind posting this question on any renaissance
discussion list you're on? Someone must know! The argument goes
something like this:
Ophelia is to Polonius what Cordelia is to Lear, a child favourite, and
it is fair to suggest that both Lear and Polonius are affected by an
imaginary slight.... While Ophelia does not seemingly make her own case
'for' reason, in the way the Cordelia does in 1.1 of Lear, the result
it, in effect, the same. The 'tenderness' of age is paralleled here with
the 'tenderness' of youth. Polonius cannot 'see' to reason with youth.
Instead he merely acts on impulse. His 'passion' is 'kindled' quickly,
and ultimately his decision to deny Ophelia freedom or reason leads to
her death.... Lear attempts to give away the burdens of his kingdom but
maintain some form of power over it, just as Polonius attempts to grant
Laertes his freedom, but cannot let go of him completely.
I'd be immensely grateful for any leads. If you do post this for me on
the web, feel free, if you like, to suggest people contact me directly,
Department of English and Drama