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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: Senile Dementia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1156  Monday, 5 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Friday, 2 Jun 2000 15:04:22 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1141 Re: Senile Dementia

[2]     From:   Abdulla Al-Dabbagh <
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        Date:   Sunday, 4 Jun 2000 00:38:41 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1128 Re: Senile Dementia

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Sunday, 4 Jun 2000 12:37:30 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.1120 Re: Senile Dementia


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Friday, 2 Jun 2000 15:04:22 -0400
Subject: 11.1141 Re: Senile Dementia
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1141 Re: Senile Dementia

What Terry says about senile dementia, AND about that being an attempt
to apply a 20th century construct to a 17th century character, is valid:
Oedipus did not suffer from the "Oedipus Complex," nor does Polonius or
Lear suffer from senile dementia: neither of those labels had been
invented yet.

I have already said that Lear is essentially a spoiled brat driven mad
by his sudden inability to have his own way, to bend others to his will.
The interchange with Ophelia demonstrates this: she is clearly his
favorite, his most beloved daughter, on whom he hopes to confer the
lion's share of his estate-but because she will not say "I love you"
according to the terms he decrees, he rejects her altogether, in a
temper tantrum. He knows she loves him, and he probably knows she loves
him best, as well, just as he knows Kent to be a true and loyal servant,
from the long years of his having demonstrated that he is so. But Lear's
ego cannot and will not brook their defiance, their insistence on saying
what they choose, as opposed to what he wants them to say. There is
nothing "senile" about that. Lear is a fond, foolish old man because he
believes he is powerful enough to continue to control younger, more
ambitious men and women: he is not the first, and he won't be the last,
to keep dancing when the dance has ended.

Polonius too is an officious old windbag who was once (apparently) a
force to be reckoned with in the Danish court. He is past his prime, but
he is neither stupid nor senile: perhaps once a compelling orator, he is
in love with the sound of his own voice; perhaps once a perspicacious
advisor, he is enthralled by the apprehension of his own wisdom. In
short (to argue day is day and night is night) he, too, is long past his
prime, an Anchises whose advice can no longer be trusted. Perhaps
Cladius's willingness to listen to him is what we should be considering
here: why does he even entertain the nonsense that Hamlet is mad for
unrequited love, proposed by someone whose judgment is clearly
questionable?

Doddering old fool that I am myself, I was amused by Prof. Hawkes' turn
of phrase.

Are females allowed to agree with you, Sir Terence?

Cheekily,
Carol Barton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abdulla Al-Dabbagh <
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Date:           Sunday, 4 Jun 2000 00:38:41 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 11.1128 Re: Senile Dementia
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1128 Re: Senile Dementia

Isn't the repetitive reduction of Lear to a senile, old man, merely one
of the clich

 

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