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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: February ::
Re: Lear's Estate Planning
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0396  Tuesday, 20 February 2001

[1]     From:   J. Birjepatil <
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        Date:   Friday, 16 Feb 2001 11:26:32 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0389 Re: Lear's Estate Plann

[2]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Friday, 16 Feb 2001 14:29:39 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0389 Re: Lear's Estate Planning

[3]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Friday, 16 Feb 2001 19:21:01 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0389 Re: Lear's Estate Planning

[4]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Saturday, 17 Feb 2001 19:00:59 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0389 Re: Lear's Estate Planning


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           J. Birjepatil <
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Date:           Friday, 16 Feb 2001 11:26:32 +0000
Subject: 12.0389 Re: Lear's Estate Planning
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0389 Re: Lear's Estate Planning

I suspect Lear has to enact in presence of witnesses the division of
kingdom in order to secure for it legal validity. The controversy
surrounding marriages de futuro as opposed to de presenti in Measure For
Measure turns on the issue of their relative legality.

Jay Birjepatil

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Friday, 16 Feb 2001 14:29:39 -0600
Subject: 12.0389 Re: Lear's Estate Planning
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0389 Re: Lear's Estate Planning

Edmund Taft wrote,

> Significantly, no one in the play seems to object to Lear's plan to
> divide the kingdom -- odd, isn't it?  He does give a reason: "that
> future strife/May be prevented now" 1.1.44-45).

Future strife might best have been prevented by handing over the whole
kingdom to the eldest daughter, and at his death, not before it.  It is
unlikely that, anywhere in Shakespeare, a division of a kingdom is
favored over its unity.

> It doesn't sound like a very good reason, especially retrospectively.
> Maybe it's not his real reason: maybe, as Lear himself hints, he has a
> darker purpose, of which this division is a part.

His "darker purpose" is simply to have his daughters make a public
spectacle of their love for him, an early sign of his senility.

> But isn't the real question why Lear holds the "love test"? After all,
> the huge, oversized map has already been drawn up.  So the
> portions are allotted before the test begins! (?)

Yes, there is to be no real "test" at all; Cordelia, his favorite, was
to get the largest portion.  But, like her father, hot-headed and
inclined to act before she thinks, she cannot see this for what it is -
the foolishness of an beloved old man to be indulged - and blunders
herself and her country into confusion.  In her sisters' responses ("I
love you more than anything, then "I love nothing else but you")  her
proper  answer is set out for her as the third step in the discovery of
a perfect love: "I love everything else because of you."  The religious
formula it expresses would be known by every church-goer, and her answer
would be expected by an Elizabethan audience. That she doesn't deliver
the expected line would tell the audience that they were dealing with a
proud little girl who is much too generously rewarded when made the
Queen of France.  When she says that she can't "heave my heart into my
mouth," she means she will not say in public that she loves her father.
She should take lessons from Queen Katherine ("Henry VIII") and that
other Katherine ("Taming of the Shrew").  By the way, we should notice
that both she and Lear speak of love as quantifiable - the deeper
problem in their common character and in that of the other two sisters
that wreaks such public havoc.

L. Swilley

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Friday, 16 Feb 2001 19:21:01 EST
Subject: 12.0389 Re: Lear's Estate Planning
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0389 Re: Lear's Estate Planning

>It doesn't sound like a very good reason, especially retrospectively.
>Maybe it's not his real reason: maybe, as Lear himself hints, he has a
>darker purpose, of which this division is a part.

ED,

You really must read (or re-read) King Leir - all will be revealed as to
why Lear (or Leir) divides the Kingdom in the way he does. S's play just
fails to remember the correct reason from the source play. Maybe S was
in a hurry when he copied it.

Yours,
Marcus.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Saturday, 17 Feb 2001 19:00:59 -0000
Subject: 12.0389 Re: Lear's Estate Planning
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0389 Re: Lear's Estate Planning

Ed Taft comments:

> Significantly, no one in the play seems to object to Lear's plan to
> divide the kingdom -- odd, isn't it?  He does give a reason: "that
> future strife/May be prevented now" 1.1.44-45).
>
> It doesn't sound like a very good reason, especially retrospectively.
> Maybe it's not his real reason: maybe, as Lear himself hints, he has a
> darker purpose, of which this division is a part.
>
> But isn't the real question why Lear holds the "love test"?  After all,
> the huge, oversized map has already been drawn up.  So the portions are
> allotted before the test begins! (?)

Indeed, Regan's outdoing of Goneril is not rewarded: she gets an "ample
third . . . No less in space", but apparently no greater either. Clearly
the 'love test' is a sham and the disinheriting of Cordelia (the "darker
purpose") was planned from the start. It avoids giving a part of the
kingdom to France or Burgundy.

Gabriel Egan
 

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