2002

Re: Truths

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1241  Monday, 6 May 2002

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 03 May 2002 11:08:54 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1229 Re: Movies and Other Issues

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 3 May 2002 19:19:48 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1189 Re: Hamlets and Movies

[3]     From:   Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 4 May 2002 12:52:18 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1229 Re: Movies and Other Issues

[4]     From:   Bill Arnold <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 4 May 2002 21:09:11 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1204 Re: Movies and Other Issues

[5]     From:   Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 3 May 2002 17:38:54 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 13.1206 Accents, Truths, Breathing

[6]     From:   Jane Drake Brody <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 4 May 2002 11:25:42 EDT
        Subj:   Truth and Language


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 03 May 2002 11:08:54 -0700
Subject: 13.1229 Re: Movies and Other Issues
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1229 Re: Movies and Other Issues

Martin Steward suggests that

>We might say, "There are no horses" when standing in a field devoid of horses.
>But that does not mean that we are saying "There are NO horses" (i.e.
>there is no such thing-in-the-world as a horse). By the same token, we
>might say, "There are horses" even in a field devoid of horses. The
>point is, we have an idea of what a horse is, and so even if we never
>saw one again, we could confidently say that "There are horses." The
>same applies to universal truth.

Not really.  A 'universal truth' would by definition be everywhere or
nowhere.  A local universal truth is impossible.  It's either universal
or local, but it can't logically be both.

An earlier version of a similar paradox (from Plato, I believe) went
something like this:  "I am Cretan.  All Cretans are liars".  The word
'all' is what makes the claim into a paradox.  If the speaker simply
said "Many Cretans are liars" or "My neighbours are all liars", then he
wouldn't be including himself in the statement, which is what produces
the paradox.

>The place harbouring universal truth
>might actually only be harbouring the idea of universal truth. And an
>idea is not the same thing as the thing-in-itself.

I'm not sure if this holds as well for universal truth as for horses.
One can have an idea of a horse with no horses existing physically in
our world.  A universal truth is itself an idea, however, so it can't be
checked against something extant "out there".  To have its idea is to
have it.

Cheers,
Se


Re: Movies and Luhrmann

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1240  Monday, 6 May 2002

[1]     From:   R.A. Cantrell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 03 May 2002 11:28:01 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1230 Re: Movies and Luhrmann

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 3 May 2002 17:45:47 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1230 Re: Movies and Luhrmann

[3]     From:   Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 3 May 2002 12:16:01 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1230 Re: Movies and Luhrmann

[4]     From:   Edward Pixley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 04 May 2002 10:01:30 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1230 Re: Movies and Luhrmann


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R.A. Cantrell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 03 May 2002 11:28:01 -0500
Subject: 13.1230 Re: Movies and Luhrmann
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1230 Re: Movies and Luhrmann

> There is nothing cryptic in Shakespeare's language.

I think you are hasty

"Some enigma, some riddle" LLL 3.1.70

A great deal of Shakespeare's language is cryptic. Perhaps the play and
passage in question are not obscure to  you.

All the best,
R.A. Cantrell
<This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 3 May 2002 17:45:47 +0100
Subject: 13.1230 Re: Movies and Luhrmann
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1230 Re: Movies and Luhrmann

Larry Weiss takes Baz Luhrmann to task (Vaz you dere? or something) for
saying,

>One of the things about Shakespeare was that he totally stole popular
>culture or anything of the streets from low comedy but particularly he took
>popular music and just put them in his shows because that was a way of
>engaging his audience into the storytelling. Baz Lurhmann

Nothing controversial there, surely (besides the syntax)? See Bradbrook
(to cite only the doyenne of this wing of Shakespearean scholarship) for
example.

Actually let's be more precise:

Muriel C. Bradbrook, The Growth and Structure of Elizabethan Comedy, 2nd
Edition, pp.12-15, 18-20; The Rise of the Common Player: A Study of
Actor and Society in Shakespeare's England, pp.110, 119ff., 141-142,
265; The Living Monument: Shakespeare and the Theatre of His Time,
pp.13-20, 36-38; Peter Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe,
p.182; Richard Axton, "Folk Play in Tudor interludes", Marie Axton and
Raymond Williams, eds., English Drama: Forms and Development, pp.1-23;
and of course the new-historicist Shakespearean's favourite
anthropologist, Clifford Geertz, on the Balinese cockfight....

m

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 3 May 2002 12:16:01 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1230 Re: Movies and Luhrmann
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1230 Re: Movies and Luhrmann

> >    "The idea in the whole film is to find modern
> day
> > images and equivalents that could decode the
> language
> > of Shakespeare". - Baz Luhrmann
>
> There is nothing cryptic in Shakespeare's language.
> If there were, it
> would be the height of folly to accept Luhrmann's
> arrogant contention
> that he holds the key to the cryptogram, especially
> in light of the
> following:
>
> >    After many approaches to the cinematic style,
> > "finally we realized that...Shakespeare's language
> > would tell the story." - Luhrmann
>
> You mean you did not know that before?

Thanks for some intelligent comments Larry. The problem is that, as
lovers of Shakespeare, there is not much that is cryptic about
Shakespeare. We have at least an adequate understanding of him. But it
is so easy for us to forget that a vast majority of the world does not
read or see Shakespeare. For them, Shakespeare IS a cryptic thing, just
as poetry was an unfamiliar thing for the craftsmen who escaped work for
an afternoon to attend a performance. The DVD made clear that, not only
is Luhrmann not arrogant, but he was quite studiously concerned with
recreating what makes the play so good and doing it in a modern setting.
For instance, the religious politicism of the Elizabethans was
duplicated in the film by the constant religious symbols - crucifixes,
the Jesus statue, tattoos -  of the characters and the city. The second
comment is actually out of context. I apologize. They mentioned, and
mocked, the really silly ideas they had for the film and then realized
(duh!), the language will guide us.

> >    "Ironically, the thing that was incredibly
> > successful about this movie is that you [Baz] took
> the
> > text as written by Shakespeare and because we
> clash it
> > with a modern context, the language is clarified
> > because it is articulated in familiar images". -
> > Catherine Martin, Production Designer
>
> The images in this film are not familiar to me or, I
> hope, most everyone
> else.  In any case, the "clash" of language and
> context confuses, it
> does not clarify.  And, besides,  Shakespeare's play
> does not need
> clarifying.

Why do you HOPE that the images are not familiar to the people on this
listserv? Does that mean that you hope that the film fails on a vast
level? It does not.  The reason that the film succeeded financially
where few Shakespeare films have is that it connected with a modern
audience. Let's take the opening scene for example. The commentary
mentions that many people could understand what is going on even without
sound or language. If you do the same with doublet and hose, it is clear
that the factions are angry and about to fight. In the film, it is clear
that the sides are at least rival gangs with an ongoing feud. The
constant rivaling of gangs is something with which our modern society is
unfortunately quite familiar. It did not alter the text, but it did
transform or decode the situation in a way that the general public could
understand. Shakespeare himself did the same thing; he placed older
stories in a modern and easily identifiable situation. And a great many
critics criticised his approach as well.

> >    "One of the things about Shakespeare was that
> he
> > totally stole popular culture or anything of the
> > streets from low comedy but particularly he took
> > popular music and just put them in his shows
> because
> > that was a way of engaging his audience into the
> > storytelling. Every choice we've made in terms of
> > cinematic devices have been grounded in some
> reality
> > of the Elizabethan stage. That has been really our
> > motive in everything we've done here". - Luhrmann
>
> Vas you dere, Bazzy?

No, but he researched. The commentary revealed to me how extensively the
creative team allowed the text of the play to be the source for their
creative decisions. I mentioned a few last time, but I have yet to hear
anyone refute those claims with the text or anything other than
generally derisive comments.  Luhrmann has extensive theatre experience
(he continues to direct theatre and opera). He allowed the conventions
of the Elizabethan theatre to inform his process and he details them at
great length on the DVD.

> >    "It wasn't a world of no rules; it was a world
> of
> > rules as dictated by the text". - screenwriter
> Greg
> > Pearce
>
> I have no idea what this sententious babble means,
> so I can't comment.

It reinforces what I have been saying all along and it is quite clear
what it means. Since the commentary was recently recorded, he is
answering derision of the film as random, much like the claims on this
listserv.  The commentary defends and supports every decision which they
made. There were rules that they followed and every rule was grounded in
Shakespeare's text.  Just as Shakespeare created a fictional Verona in
his play, Luhrmann creates a fictional Verona Beach in which to play out
his R+J. Why is it that when a comment is made that supports a position
we don't like, it is much easier to say "this is nonsense" rather than
to subvert it with evidence of our own?

> >    Luhrmann on his film's tackling of (perhaps)
> > Shakespeare's most famous play:
> >    "seeing something well known in a different and
> > fresh light",
> >    "finding choices that didn't change the text
> per se
> > but utilizing it in different ways",
> >    "we were not the first butchers of the Bard".
>
> Well, the last one is right.  But hardly an excuse.

Again, if we don't want to agree, we attack with derision. We place
Shakespeare on a high art pedestal and when he is made popular, it's
butchery. Luhrmann's comment was a satirical comment on what people
perceive of his work. He's trying to say that that pedestal exists and
it was placed there centuries ago by a cultural elite. If a film does
not cater to that cultural elite but tries to make the other 90% of
people in the world understand and feel, it's knocked as not worthy. And
why should he have to excuse his vision or his direction? It is equally
as valid as any of ours.

> Please come back, Brian.  I am knocking Luhrmann,
> not you.

I understand, and I have realized that I am getting too personally
involved in this debate. The problem is that I am so personally and
emotionally touched by many of the films that I get attached to
defending them as if they were my own. They touch the same emotional
chords as their source material for me. And that is ultimately why we
are all here regardless of our positions: we have all been moved by
Shakespeare's work and want to discuss it. I apologize for getting so
lost in emotional involvement when I should be detached. Because I feel
so passionately about these things, I allow it to color my posts
sometimes. It's my tragic flaw. :) I just wish that sometimes we could
debate these issues with the support of sources rather than doggedly
deriding something out of our aesthetic tastes merely on personal
preferment. Explain why something doesn't work rather than just
blanketly knocking it. I still haven't read ANYONE attack Luhrmann with
sources including the play text. Can anyone criticise the film and
explain how it distorts the play or the text? I've quoted exhaustively
from Luhrmann and his production team. I could also quote the many film
critics who loved it. There are also some who disliked it.

I suppose I get insulted when those who support and enjoy such films are
implied as morons (not by you Larry). I enjoy these films on aesthetic
and intellectual grounds. I can defend them on those same intellectual
grounds. I merely ask for others to do the same.

Brian Willis

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Pixley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 04 May 2002 10:01:30 -0400
Subject: 13.1230 Re: Movies and Luhrmann
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1230 Re: Movies and Luhrmann

>And, besides, Shakespeare's play does not need
>clarifying.
>From the discussion of Luhrmann's R&J:

If the above pronouncement about this or any of Shakespeare's plays were
true, why would its author bother to retain membership in this
Listserv?  --or why would any of us waste our time reading and writing
about the plays, or, for that matter, even producing them?

If a director leaves the plays to speak for themselves, as the above
author implies, they will, Peter Brook long ago pointed out, remain
remarkably silent.  The potentials underlying Shakespeare's rich
language, characterizations, and plotting must be explored, mined, and
then, to use Harold Clurman's image, translated to the visual languages
of stage and/or screen.

Ed Pixley

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
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DC Ado (leather pants

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1238  Friday, 3 May 2002

From:           Jimmy Jung <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 3 May 2002 11:26:54 -0400
Subject:        DC Ado (leather pants)

>Takashi Kozuka forwarded Andrew Sullivan's
>"Shakespeare therapy in leather trousers," from
>The Times Online (21 April 2002)...

http://www.andrewsullivan.com/main_article.php?artnum=20020421

I went to see this last week on what may have been the opening, or may
have been a preview, I'm not sure.  It was the originally scheduled
opening, but I'm fairly certain the set had not been completely painted
and I know the programs were not expected until the next day.
Nevertheless, I wanted to share on an audacious little production.

If you are familiar with our little burgh of Washington, you may know
that there are two companies that have named themselves after Mr.
Shakespeare.  One operates downtown and is pretty well heeled, having
left the Folger Library's beautiful, but small renaissance theater, to
operate in a much larger and more lavish space built just for them.
This is the other company; they operate just across the river, in a
warehouse they converted with some scary-old movie seats.  But they
don't lack for courage.  Their production of Much Ado is clear
indication of that.

Initially, the set is given as a large white space marked with a thin
red grid.  Displayed in the center is a fantastical dress that matches
Anna Lascari's exhibit of imagined military armor for women, titled
"Women-at-arms" being shown in the lobby.  Although this dress is
cleared before the production begins, I mention it because these
elements "reappear," without explanation at critical junctures.  The
citizens of Messina seem to have an Italian sense of fashion and through
much of the first act, their attire and demeanor seems like that of the
fashion runways. Their entrances and exits are through trap doors and
combined with a Leonato, who reminded me of Alice's rabbit, in a highly
stylized set of white tails and enormous platform heels, the whole
effect was kind of "Milan-through-the-looking-glass" to me.  The
villains, on the other hand, have a punk rock sensibility; leather,
chains, safety pins.  Much of this is accomplished with the kind of
inventiveness demanded by the small theater, two simple planks of wood
acts as doors, tables, benches and other props.

There is a good bit of choreography and singing in the production, most
accomplished handily, and many of the longer explicatory  passages are
also render in song. In one of the coolest choices of the production,
you actually get to GO to the wedding, which is the remarkable high
point in the show.  Much of the latter part of the play experiments
strongly with the boundary between cast and audience.

Oddly enough, this Hero is not always the sweetest of maids, and seems
occasionally peevish, and sometimes a shade nasty to the household
staff, providing some justification for Margaret's conspicuous silence
during Claudio's accusations.

The cast has some of the unevenness you would have to expect of a
company this size.  Andrew Sullivan, as Benedick, is certainly the
highlight, but he is matched with a fairly strong Beatrice, who keeps
referring to him, pointedly as Bene-DICK.  A strong singing Claudio is
the center of the remarkable wedding.  And Don Pedro and Don John are
doubled in a very tough and often amusing performance.  Dogberry is
delivered with a sort of Dennis-Hopper craziness and the entire watch
gives you the high but sweet kind of funny.  The cast seemed a little
disjoint and bumpy through the complex entrances of the first act, but
the stage strips away as the show continues and they seem to warm up to
their task readying themselves for the entanglements of the ending. I'd
tell you who was who, but there were no programs.

There are certainly folks who will not like this production.  It is
wildly ambitious and pushy in its experimentation.  Choices are made
which defy any rationalization I can fathom.  There's a mysterious
voice, a scooter, and that whole women in armor thing.  Nevertheless,
when compared to the passionless Romeo and Juliet, across town, I'm
still inclined to applaud this companies daring. (especially if you can
find a half priced ticket).

If you are going to go, a couple hints, there are two intermissions.  I
had heard that in earlier previews, folks had left after the second
intermission, which occurs right after Claudio's nasty alter scene and
(recognizing that this could have been a critical decision,) I wonder if
these folks thought maybe Much Ado was a tragedy or didn't know that
Comedies don't end with the death of a young lover.  And stay in the
lobby, because Friar Francis delivers his little plan, sort of
tangentially, and if you wander off for a smoke, you might never figure
it out.

Ticketplace was handling half price tickets for the production, and more
interestingly, it was one of the productions they were processing
through there on-again/off-again on-line sales.  (i.e., no visit to the
postal pavilion)

As the Accents thread has become more and more involved, I have given it
less attention.  But I wonder, given the notion that accents might be
some critical element of the production.  Does that mean that
Shakespeare is too sacred for small companies (let alone high-schools)
to attempt?

Jimmy

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Re: Romeo and Juliet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1239  Monday, 6 May 2002

[1]     From:   L. Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 3 May 2001 15:55:33 -0500
        Subj:   Flaws and Errors

[2]     From:   Janet Costa <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 3 May 2002 09:21:28 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1233 Re: Romeo and Juliet

[3]     From:   Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 3 May 2002 17:52:19 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1233 Re: Romeo and Juliet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 3 May 2001 15:55:33 -0500
Subject:        Flaws and Errors

John V. Knapp write,

>Does it follow then that generations of lecturers on *The Poetics* have
>appeared to suggest that a poor or erroneous choice (an error) by a
>character is really a crack in the self, a "flaw" in the personality
>that reflects what?  an attribution from god, from genetic markers, from
>a story-telling mechanism?  Make no mistake: is it a flaw to use "flaw"
>and not error, or is it merely an error to ignore error and use flaw?
>Whadda think?

I think we must use both, for isn't the sense of "flaw" a characteristic
weakness in the personality that, surrendered to (or not guarded
against), produces a strong temptation to make a poor choice, to err?
Yet, at that point, there must be the freedom to choose, or we witness a
pitiful character rather than a tragic one.

L. Swilley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Janet Costa <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 3 May 2002 09:21:28 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1233 Re: Romeo and Juliet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1233 Re: Romeo and Juliet

I did try to stay out of this one, but... Re: Sam Small: 'Not in my
view.  Every story, if it is a story, has a clear protagonist and
antagonist'. I refer Sam to 'Antigone' and a few other Greek plays and
stories. Is Antigone or Creon antagonist or protagonist? My students
have had many a long night doing essays on this one. I will admit,
though, that the Aristotelian definitions in 'The Poetics' do not apply
in most Shakespeare plays, and RnJ (perhaps even the Scottish play) may
be one of them.

Janet

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 3 May 2002 17:52:19 +0100
Subject: 13.1233 Re: Romeo and Juliet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1233 Re: Romeo and Juliet

"Macbeth's ambition is driven by superstition and magic - and that is
the dark force of antagonism of the story", writes Sam Small. "It is
Shakespeare's genius that gives us so many invisible antagonists.  The
feud in R&J for instance.  Very few modern storytellers/screenwriters
take this rather progressive approach".

Stephen King shifts a fair number of books, so I'm told. And he has even
more imitators.

Also - why shouldn't the antagonist be Macbeth's inability to screw his
courage to the sticking place? That would make him both protagonist and
antagonist, a divided self. Isn't that really Shakespeare's genius in
these matters - the convincing portrayal of psychomachia in human terms?
Cf.  Jonson's plots and characters for the sort of thing Shakespeare
wasn't trying to do (or vice versa, I dunno...)

m

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Re: Edgar and Edmund

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1237  Friday, 3 May 2002

[1]     From:   Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 2 May 2002 11:13:09 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1220 Re: Edgar and Edmund

[2]     From:   Karen Peterson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 3 May 2002 05:18:17 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1220 Re: Edgar and Edmund

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 3 May 2002 08:29:08 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1167 Re: Edgar and Edmund

[4]     From:   Ed Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 03 May 2002 09:43:03 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1220 Re: Edgar and Edmund


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 2 May 2002 11:13:09 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1220 Re: Edgar and Edmund
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1220 Re: Edgar and Edmund

> Sean Lawrence suggests that Edgar does not reveal
> himself to his father
> when they first meet because to do so would kill the
> old man. This is an
> interesting idea, but it doesn't seem to me to be
> true. Everything is a
> matter of timing. Revealing himself right away would
> do no harm;
> revealing himself after what he has done to
> Gloucester causes such
> contrary feelings that Gloucester's heart breaks in
> two.

"Smilingly". How do you explain that, textually, Shakespeare uses this
peculiar adverb to describe how his heart breaks? How also are we to
believe that Edgar is a "bad guy" who has inflicted heavy pain on
Gloucester? Surely the pain has been inflicted by Edmund, the creator of
all of the conflict in the family, and by Cornwall and co. for RIPPING
OUT HIS EYES for God's sake. I can find words that support a more
(though perhaps not totally) heroic view of Edgar. If Shakespeare had
meant for us to be more questioning of Edgar, he would have left us
words in the text. What about the speeches I quoted previously?  How can
you refute what they say with anything but speculation about a hidden
agenda? I would like to see something that is physically said onstage to
support this reading and I can't find it. Lear is full of instances of
spoken and openly villainous acts that the audience recognizes. I am
open to this interpretation but I just don't see it there. The word
"smilingly" seems to dispel it altogether.

I'm not saying that action isn't textually based.  Let me clarify. I was
saying that action that should be questioned is often supported by the
words that characters say. Nothing that anyone says, either Edgar or
others, subverts what he does in the play. Even Gloucester's death is
delivered in a positive context.  His heart bursts out of the
overwhelming love and joy of reunion.

I should also clarify my claim that Cordelia and Edgar prove themselves.
They don't feel the need to do so. They do so out of love of their
parent and Shakespeare feels the dramatic necessity of a journey, where
the end result is the parent's revelation of their truly loyal
offspring's UNSPOKEN but acted out love. Even Kent is in this "loyalty
test" of Shakespeare's. He, like Cordelia, speaks words Lear doesn't
want to hear and is clever enough in a disguise to continue to do so and
to act on Lear's behalf, particularly against the treasonously seditious
Oswald. The loving are punished and the evil thrive. That is why Lear is
so cynical. And then when Shakespeare gives us a glimpse of Cordelia's
restoration, he rips our hearts out too. Only Edgar doesn't die but
lives to become king, and Gloucester's heart break is under much
different circumstances.


Brian Willis

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 3 May 2002 05:18:17 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1220 Re: Edgar and Edmund
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1220 Re: Edgar and Edmund

Ed, this was an extremely interesting post.  I hope I am not intruding
into the debate with Sean by adding a query or two...

> How would you feel, Sean, if someone
> did to you what
> Gloucester did to Edgar? That is the central
> question.  And the answer
> is simple and straightforward: we all would feel
> hate and the desire for
> revenge. And so does Edgar, though he can't admit it
> to himself.

I see your point, "and do in part believe it."  But I'm not absolutely
sure that the emotional response would, simply and straightforwardly, be
hate and the desire for revenge for all of us.  You cited Cordelia's
response, which certainly entails some elements of hatred and revenge,
but the focus seems different: Cordelia's anger seems to be primarily
focused on her older sisters.  True, indirectly she is acknowledging
that Lear will suffer for what he has done.  But I don't sense a desire
for revenge against Lear.  Against Goneril and Regan, perhaps, yes.

But then, as you say, perhaps it is a matter of her not admitting her
hatred and desire for revenge against her father to herself.  Hmmm.  I
must ponder this more.

> If anyone needs to prove himself, it's
> Gloucester or Lear, isn't
> it? Aren't they the ones who have done wrong?

Lear, yes.  Gloucester...maybe.  Both of them are "guilty" of
gullibility.  But in Gloucester's case, Edmund has gone to substantial
trouble to "set up" Edgar.  Gloucester is presented with more apparent
evidence for Edgar's apparent betrayal than is Lear, who disowns
Cordelia merely on the basis of her inability to skillfully stroke his
ego (or suck up, if we want to put it more bluntly!).

Edgar trusted his father, and he trusted Edmund.  People who trust
easily, or too easily, often swing hard the in other direction when
their trust is betrayed.  This, of course, fits in with what you said
about the two fathers needing to prove themselves.  I think you're right
about this, but that much of the interaction between Edgar-in-disguise
and the blinded Gloucester has as much to do with Edgar's feelings of
having his world shattered, and not knowing who he may now trust, as it
does with a desire for revenge per se.

For what it's worth...

Cheers,
Karen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 3 May 2002 08:29:08 -0400
Subject: 13.1167 Re: Edgar and Edmund
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1167 Re: Edgar and Edmund

Janet O'Keefe wrote:

>I don't think either of the options you list represents Lear's primary
>error.

I wouldn't have chosen the term "primary" except that I was responding
to an earlier post by Martin Steward that offered the first option as
such.  Primacy is not the function I meant to identify, but rather what
distinguishes Lear from other literary kings who attempted to divide
their kingdoms and/or disburden themselves from royal responsibility.
While I identified Gorboduc as a prototype for the former error, both of
these themes are ancient: Alexander divided his empire and it fell; the
Hebrews divided David's kingdom and it fell; etc. The latter error is a
metaphor for the medieval debate between active and contemplative life
derived from Boethius and probably older. Shakespeare's Lear does not
invent these issues; it only represents their contemporary
contextualization. What is new about Lear in this context is their
conflation with the love test. It is not resigning responsibility that
brings the tragedy (given average life expectency, an eighty year old
king would have to delegate to some degree), it is to whom (and in the
case of Lear, on what principles) state power is delegated that
characterizes Shakespeare's use of the literary convention.  There is no
reason to question Lear's gradual realization that had he reserved the
intended third of the kingdom to the most deserving daughter, he would
have had refuge from the corruption of the other two (premodern checks
and balances).

>It seems to me that Lear's primary error is the same as
>Prospero's, namely the attempt to retire from power while still holding
>the title and dignities of ruler.  Prospero retreats into his library
>while still ruling Duke, allowing his brother to do all the hard work
>while he retains the title and the glory.  Naturally his brother gets
>fed up with it and boots him out.

The problem here is that it is not natural but explicitly unnatural.
Prospero describes the process by which Antonio gradually arrogates the
dukedom as perverse ambition. (Perhaps he was thinking of Michelangelo's
Medici tomb in which the statues of the brothers have been interpreted
(as the statues of Mary and Margaret flanking the Moses) as active and
contemplative principles conjoining in government. The two are not
necessarily incompatible. A "mixed life" is possible except where the
active side is dominated by corrupted worldly ambition.) There is I
think a subtle but important difference in emphasis between condemning a
public figure for selfishly fobbing off his responsibilities, and
upbraiding him for failing to recognize the corruption of his trusted
representatives (refigured in Gonzalo's awaking of Alonso to the drawn
swords of Sebastian and Antonio).  As with Lear then, the moral of The
Tempest has less to do with the consequences of delegation of power,
than with to whom it is delegated. As Elizabethan court politics was
dominated by rivalries of factions for favorite status as counselors and
delegates, it is the selection principle that makes the discourse
politically relevant.

Clifford

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 03 May 2002 09:43:03 -0400
Subject: 13.1220 Re: Edgar and Edmund
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1220 Re: Edgar and Edmund

Maybe I'm missing something here but I don't see how this follows at
all.

Ed Kranz

(much elided)
>Like Edgar, Cordelia is in a
> love/hate relationship with her father. The most obvious example is near
> the end of the opening scene when she addresses Goneril and Regan:
>
>                 Ye jewels of our father, with washed eyes
>                 Cordelia leaves you.  I know you what you are,
>                 and like a sister am most loath to call
>                 Your faults as they are named.  Love well our father.
>                 To your professed bosoms I commit him.
>                 But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
>                 I would prefer hm to a better place.
>                                         (1.1.272-78).
>
> In these lines Cordelia reverts to the role of favorite child and so
> insults her sisters that she guarantees that Lear will be mistreated by
> them.  Take that, old man!
>
> --Ed Taft

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