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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: November ::
Re: Does Goneril Commit Suicide?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2639  Wednesday, 21 November 2001

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001 14:02:19 -0500
        Subj:   Does Goneril Commit Suicide?

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001 08:53:12 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2632 Re: Does Goneril Commit Suicide?

[3]     From:   Ildiko Solti <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001 15:50:31 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Goneril


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001 14:02:19 -0500
Subject:        Does Goneril Commit Suicide?

I happen to agree with those who think that Goneril does commit suicide,
but hats off to Bill Godshalk's class for their close reading: it IS a
report, and HOW can Edmund know?

In my view, Goneril is a very masculine woman who is as sharp as they
come.  Her hopes crumble when Edmund is mortally wounded, and, like a
Roman soldier, she kills herself.

But who knows? Some clever scholar may see something I've missed. The
real issue, raised indirectly by Bill, is the long-standing divide
between those of us who are committed to "close reading," and those of
us who think that careful reading is often not appropriate for a play
that was meant to be put on the stage.

There's no easy answer, but let me point out that the apparently
authorial revisions of the Q _Lear_ strongly suggest that Shakespeare
thought of his work as BOTH for the stage and for the study. Why not?

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001 08:53:12 -0800
Subject: 12.2632 Re: Does Goneril Commit Suicide?
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2632 Re: Does Goneril Commit Suicide?

M. Yawney writes,

>I assume that the original audience, like the modern one, would probably
>be looking more at the larger themes and questions of the work, rather
>than trying to play "gotcha" with Shakespeare or looking for details on
>which to build highly idiosyncratic interpretations of writing.

But one might be quite concerned with larger themes and questions, and
still find this problem intriguing.  Goneril's is usually considered the
only suicide in the play that actually succeeds, although Gloucester
famously tries and fails, Lear says that Cordelia does him wrong to take
him from his grave, and Cordelia's death is to be ascribed to her own
despair (as indeed it was in Higgins's additions to _Mirror for
Magistrates_).

Perhaps our failure to notice the illogicality of Edmund's claim result
as much from editorial, critical and performance tradition, as it does
from dramaturgical or emotional sense.

Cheers,
Se

 

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