The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0815 Tuesday, 29 April 2003
Date: Monday, 28 Apr 2003 18:03:08 -0400
Subject: 14.0765 Re: One Name, Two Personages
Comment: RE: SHK 14.0765 Re: One Name, Two Personages
One more--"Gloucester" in King Lear.
Throughout the play, the old gentleman with the two sons is addressed,
referred to, and invariably identified in stage directions and speech
prefixes as Gloucester. But after the Duke of Cornwall awards the title
to Edmund (3.5.16-17), Edmund is directly addressed at least four times
as "Gloucester": by Cornwall, "Farewell, my lord of Gloucester"
(3.7.14); by Goneril, "My most dear Gloucester!" (4.2.30); and in the
final scene both by Albany, "Gloucester, thou art armed" (5.3.108)and by
Goneril, "This is practice, Gloucester" (181). In the same scene,
"Edmund, supposed Earl of Gloucester" also occurs in the Herald's
pronouncement (135-36) and in the disguised Edgar's "What's he that
speaks for Edmund, Earl of Gloucester?" (150-51).
But in the first of these scenes, Edmund's father is referred to as
Gloucester four times, including Oswald's "My lord of Gloucester"
(3.7.16), just two lines after Cornwall used the exact phrase to address
Edmund. In the second of these scenes, the old earl is referred to as
Gloucester once by Oswald (4.2.6), and three times in quick succession
by Albany and the messenger who brings him news of the blinding (87, 88,
97), yet immediately after, Goneril in an aside refers to Edmund as "my
dear Gloucester" (103). In the final scene, the old earl is referred to
only as Edgar and Edmund's father, never by his title.
Using the same name in such close proximity for two different characters
may well be unique in Shakespeare. If he could get away with this,
perhaps two different Huberts in King John is what was intended.
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