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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: Edmund
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1206  Thursday, 19 June 2003

[1]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Jun 2003 08:27:20 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1199 Re: Edmund

[2]     From:   David Bishop <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Jun 2003 15:58:11 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1199 Re: Edmund


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Monday, 16 Jun 2003 08:27:20 -0400
Subject: 14.1199 Re: Edmund
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1199 Re: Edmund

If I may add my own "two cents" to this polar debate: I don't see the
justification for viewing Edgar as evil: rather, it has always seemed to
me that he and Cordelia are more Othello-like, not stupid, but naively
honest, and easily gulled (or in Cordelia's case, entrapped) by the
schemers. And I don't see Gloucester's affectionate teasing of the
bastard he openly acknowledges as his son (at law or not) as dismissive
or deprecating: rather, if he thinks so little of Edmund, and says what
he says to ridicule the boy, why does he trust him so unquestioningly
when Edmund "reveals" the contents of "Edgar's" letter?

Both in my reading love their respective fathers. Both have been
disinherited: and is it worse to be the illegitimate child of a parent
who loves you, or to be consciously and deliberately cut off from that
love (and your inheritance) on false pretenses, disowned by a parent who
rejects you for all of the wrong reasons? And isn't Edgar pretending to
do exactly as his father has asked him to do, to falsely gain
Gloucester's trust so as to "deceive" him beneficially, as Edmund has
gained his trust and deceived him maliciously?

I am preparing for class at the moment, so don't have time to get into
specifics (for which forgive me); but I wonder if such considerations
ought to be taken into account in this debate? (I will be happy to
continue the conversation offline during Hardy's much deserved hiatus.)

All best,
Carol Barton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Bishop <
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Date:           Monday, 16 Jun 2003 15:58:11 -0700
Subject: 14.1199 Re: Edmund
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1199 Re: Edmund

Ed Taft sent this message privately, but since it's now posted I will
also post my reply:

Dear Ed,

Thanks for your reply, but I still disagree. I don't think it's a matter
of looking at the whole play as realistic or a fairy tale. It's some
combination of the two, and the question of which details should be
concentrated on and followed out through their logical extension, as if
this were a real world, has to be taken, I would say, on a case-by-case
basis. A reader can stop and wonder about all kinds of things. Trying to
go through the play as some kind of mental performance involves trying
to follow the train of thought and impression on which the details ride.
Sometimes hints should be followed, sometimes not. In each case there's
an argument to be made, but in each case part of the argument must
depend on intuition. I feel that France is a minor character, though
important, and that the focus of the play is elsewhere than on the
details of what's behind his departure. As I said, I think he's removed
to de-Frenchify the invasion, and avoid, as far as possible, clouding
the issue of Cordelia's coming to save Lear with the taint of
anti-Britishness. If you see this detail as one that demands more
imaginative involvement, I'm not sure how much either of us could say to
change the other's mind, though sometimes it's fun to try.

Best wishes,
David

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