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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: May ::
Re: Lear and Suffering
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0864  Monday, 17 May 1999.

[1]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 May 1999 12:49:07 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0844 Re: Lear and Suffering

[2]     From:   Ben Schneider <
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        Date:   Sunday, 16 May 1999 10:13:25 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0844 Re: Lear and Suffering


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Friday, 14 May 1999 12:49:07 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 10.0844 Re: Lear and Suffering
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0844 Re: Lear and Suffering

>what do you think is Shakespeare's
>overarching worldview?  Particularly, does he portray a chaotic,
>nihilistic universe in Lear, or does he attempt to reinforce the
>stability and order of the Great Chain of Being?  From my point of view
>he seems to reflect the tension in a time period between the Great Chain
>Era and the coming Age of Science, although the age of science hardly
>presented a chaotic world either.  Hmmm.  Where does the nihilism come
>from?  The Plague?  Arbitrary suffering around him?  Any insights would
>be great!

The world portrayed in King Lear seems to me to be one in transition
from order into chaos.  The idea of good old days (which the legendary
Lear symbolized)-- when independent aristocrats were allowed to keep
large personal armies of mercenaries to protect them from encroachment
by the monarchy-giving way to new fangled ways in which only the crown
could keep an army was part of a widely current nostalgia for medieval
feudal aristocratic values.

Goneril and Regan have been read as bourgeois capitalism usurping an
increasing proportion of political power from the old landed aristocracy
and threatening to reduce the ancient chivalric codes of social
relations and privileges (when people respected their elders) to naked
class struggle and economics.  I don't know if Lear's tragedy is an
expression of Shakespeare's own despair at the changes he saw around
him.  It might only be a cautionary tale, depicting the possible
consequences of allowing aristocratic power to slip away.

Clifford Stetner
CUNY

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ben Schneider <
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Date:           Sunday, 16 May 1999 10:13:25 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 10.0844 Re: Lear and Suffering
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0844 Re: Lear and Suffering

Seneca takes up the problem that good and bad persons suffer alike in
his essay on providence available at www,stoics.com Basically, it's
"whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth"

Yours, BEN SCHNEIDER
 

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