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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: November ::
Re: Edmund and Edgar
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2261  Tuesday, 12 November 2002

[1]     From:   Nora Kreimer <
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        Date:   Monday, 11 Nov 2002 14:35:55 -0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2238 Edmund and Edgar

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Nov 2002 09:06:07 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2238 Edmund and Edgar


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nora Kreimer <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Nov 2002 14:35:55 -0300
Subject: 13.2238 Edmund and Edgar
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2238 Edmund and Edgar

The question dealing with the relationship between Edgar and Edmund has
always worried me, not so much in the sense of why he behaves as an
older brother, and the issue of the primogeniture. What I have always
found extremely strange is that Gloucester should bring his bastard to
the court and introduce him to his friend Kent and to watch him move
among royalty as if he was the legitimate. Bastards, especially of
people like the Lord Chamberlain were usually kept out of the way. This
first scene is very problematic, and this is another element, which
seems to be "out of joint".

Regards,
Nora Kreimer
Instituto Superior del Profesorado Joaquin V. Gonzalez
Buenos Aires
Argentina

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Nov 2002 09:06:07 -0000
Subject: 13.2238 Edmund and Edgar
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2238 Edmund and Edgar

Shakespeare seems deliberately to pile up the "strikes" against Edmund's
rights to the Gloucester estate, according to as many different systems
of law as he can. So, he fails in terms of common law (primogeniture);
he fails in terms of God's law (the 7th Commandment). He outlines the
disservice done to him by man-made systems of law in I.ii.:

Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
Lag of a brother?

The "plague of custom" is the common law; "The curiosity of nations" is
the civil law.

The only system that supports his claims is that of natural law - he is,
after all, Gloucester's son - which is why he resolves to make his claim
within this "jurisdiction", choosing Nature as his "goddess". The
difference between Edmund and characters like Lear and Gloucester s that
he sees these systems as utterly distinct, whereas they tend to be aware
of the natural-law and jus divinum elements of man-made, positive law
(indeed, they overstate them - that is part of the reason for their
tragedies).

On the whole, the play is quite an interesting comment on King James's
reintroduction of these medieval terms and concepts (in a modernized
form) to the modern context, in works such as Basilikon Doron  and The
Trew Lawe of Free Monarchies.

Martin S.

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