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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: Edmund
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1055  Tuesday, 3 June 2003

[1]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Monday, 2 Jun 2003 09:46:23 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1043 Re: Edmund

[2]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Monday, 02 Jun 2003 11:11:39 -0400
        Subj:   Edmund

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 02 Jun 2003 13:56:12 -0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1043 Re: Edmund


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Monday, 2 Jun 2003 09:46:23 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 14.1043 Re: Edmund
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1043 Re: Edmund

It may have been done already, but I would think a useful contrast to
Edmund would be Philip Faulconbridge, the bastard of the play King John,
who seems to contemplate and rejects making his own claim to the throne.

Jack Heller
Huntington College

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Monday, 02 Jun 2003 11:11:39 -0400
Subject:        Edmund

Kullervo Makela observes:

"Last fall, there was a lot of interesting discussion about Edmund and
Edgar."

Not everyone would agree, Kullervo, but thanks for your point of view.
As for Edmund's sudden conversion, critical opinion is split on its
genuineness. Some think Edmund sincere while others believe differently.

I happen to think his show of goodness is genuine, and here's why. Just
before Edmund decides that he means to do some good, he says:

        Yet Edmund was beloved.
        The one the other poisoned for my sake
        And after slew herself. (5.3.244-46)

He is referring, of course, to Regan and Goneril. This is the first time
in Edmund's life that he feels truly loved, and the feeling transforms
him into the person he would have been, had his father shown him real
love. The actor playing Edmund (to answer another of your questions)),
needs to begin crying with the earlier lines, "I was contracted to them
both . . . ." and continue his tears through line 260 -- that will get
across to the audience what is actually happening.

As to Edmund's real motivation throughout the play: it's his father's
lack of love for him.  Gloucester never truly loves Edmund; his bastard
son is an embarrassment and an occasion for jokes. Gloucester wants
Edmund to just go away, as he says in 1.1. 32-33.

In my view, both Edmund and Edgar (Ed and Ed) are similarly motivated by
rage against the father, Gloucester. Neither fully acknowledges his
motivation, but Edmund comes a lot closer to doing so than Edgar, who
has to hide his anger under pious commonplaces and nostrums. There are
two keys to Edgar: (1) his actions toward his father (as opposed to his
words), and his name, Edgar, which contains the word _rage_. The rage is
directed toward the letter that is left out, d, for Dad.

--Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 02 Jun 2003 13:56:12 -0300
Subject: 14.1043 Re: Edmund
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1043 Re: Edmund

Annalisa Castaldo writes, in answer to why Edmund seems to undergo a
conversion,

>That "ultimate reality,"
>coming face to face with his own mortality, was more than adequate
>reason for the conversion. However, it needs a fine actor to make the
>audience understand that this is not simply "Ow, I've been stabbed"
>shock, but something deeper.

I don't have much to add, but we might ask whether Edmund tells the
assembled characters about the fate of Lear and Cordelia because the
existential shock of mortality moves him to repentance or because he's
trying to do something, anything, in order to remain active and
therefore still feel alive.

Still kickin',
Sean.

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