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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: November ::
Re: Does Goneril Commit Suicide?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2702  Friday, 30 November 2001

[1]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Nov 2001 11:21:28 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2682 Re: Does Goneril Commit Suicide?

[2]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Nov 2001 13:58:29 -0500
        Subj:   Does Goneril Commit Suicide?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 29 Nov 2001 11:21:28 -0500
Subject: 12.2682 Re: Does Goneril Commit Suicide?
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2682 Re: Does Goneril Commit Suicide?

>I think such inquiries are worth making.  But in the meantime I wonder
>if we may just want to stick with the text(s) as we have them.

asks Bruce Young.

Yes, this was what I was driving at.  We should rely on the texts, on
the scripts, and not on what may or may not happen to those texts in the
theatre.  Indeed, when we make our judgments about auditors and what
auditors may or may not perceive when viewing a play, we make those
judgments from our knowledge of the texts.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 29 Nov 2001 13:58:29 -0500
Subject:        Does Goneril Commit Suicide?

Bill Godshalk's discussion of Goneril's death proved fascinating to me
because I have thought for some time that the final scene in _Lear_ may
be designed to make us think about what is happening (or has happened)
off stage.  The most obvious example, of course, is the long, drawn-out
challenge and fight between Edgar and Edmund that begins in 5.3.106 and
seems to go on forever. While Edgar and Albany are engrossed in what is
happening on the stage, it's possible for the audience to remember Lear
and Cordelia and, long before Albany, fear for their safety.

Something similar may happen shortly after Lear enters with Cordelia's
body:

Lear            I killed the slave that was a-hanging thee

Captain         'Tis true, my lords, he did.

Lear            Did I not, fellow?
                I have seen the day with my good biting falchion
                I would have made them skip. I am old now,
                And these same crosses spoil me. [To Kent] Who are you?
                Mine eyes are not o' the best.  I'll tell you straight.
                                        (5.3.269-274)

In the Q _Lear_ there is only one Captain (!) Editors have always
assumed that Lear killed the Captain who earlier is given the writ on
the lives of Lear and Cordelia, and so line 270, above, is assigned to a
second Captain. I understand the change. But what if there only is one
Captain?  What if the same Captain who is ordered to kill the king and
his daughter then later returns with Lear and utters line 270?

What reaction would/should an audience have to THAT?

--Ed Taft

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