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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Place of Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0426  Thursday, 14 February 2002

From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Feb 2002 13:07:09 -0500
Subject:        Place of Performance

Laura Blankenship responds to Terence Hawkes,

"I do see your point in that Smiley does "reduce" the plot to certain
particular concerns.  However, I don't think that the domestic
issues--which are there in the play--are necessarily any less important
than the "larger" issues of Kingship, etc"

Surely the Elizabethan analogy between the family and the state is
relevant here. In _Lear_, the old king starts off by showing us that he
believes that his family (and his subjects) exist to gratify him and
make him feel good. In fact, he seems to think that endless gratitude is
the only proper response from both his children and his subjects.

In the famous (infamous) opening scene, often called a "love test," it
is more accurate to say that Lear demands from his daughters  totally
inappropriate public expressions of love that serve to pit them against
each other and foster what will become a kind of deadly competition
between them.

Two points:

(1) The king's action is far worse, in my view, than is generally
realized.

(2) It really is the public equivalent of the private sin of incest, and
it is not wrong to wonder how this king has treated his daughters in
private in the past.

--Ed Taft

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