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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: November ::
Re: Edmund and Edgar
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2283  Wednesday, 13 November 2002

[1]     From:   Jan Pick <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Nov 2002 20:23:34 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2261 Re: Edmund and Edgar

[2]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Nov 2002 15:55:29 -0500
        Subj:   Edmund and Edgar


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jan Pick <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Nov 2002 20:23:34 -0000
Subject: 13.2261 Re: Edmund and Edgar
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2261 Re: Edmund and Edgar

Not in Tudor England!  Henry VIII's illegitimate son was dubbed the Duke
of Richmond, and there are plenty of other precedents for bringing up
illegitimate sons as gentlemen.

Jan Pick

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Nov 2002 15:55:29 -0500
Subject:        Edmund and Edgar

Martin Stewart correctly observes that in _King Lear_,

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

Yes. And, indeed, all of the play can be read as a conflict between law
and nature, with specific "trials" at central points, e.g.: the opening
scene; the "trial" of the absent Goneril and Regan on the Heath; the
"trial" by combat between Edgar and Edmund in Act 5. Moreover, each
trial is flawed; for example, Goneril and Regan are absent during their
trial and cannot defend themselves against Lear's charges -- a point
seldom noticed by commentators.

As far as Edgar and Edmund go, I would add that there is a clear
psychological reason why Edgar seems like the older brother. He has been
free of the smothering patriarchal influence of Gloucester, who has so
dominated Edgar that this older son has tried to please his father to
the point that the son himself is rather withdrawn, shy, and easily
misled, even led by the nose, by Edgar upon the latter's return.

Edgar burns with hatred for the father who has not shown him real love;
Edmund, however, has been stunted by his father's patriarchal,
overbearing nature. Remember, we see Gloucester as an old man -- when he
was younger, he was even worse! Like Lear.

I certainly hope that this discussion gets off the ground and running.
We had a similar discussion a few months ago, the quality of which I was
much displeased with.

--Ed Taft

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