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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: Edmund
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1249  Monday, 23 June 2003

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 Jun 2003 09:46:54 -0400
        Subj:   Edmund

[2]     From:   Alberto Cacicedo <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 Jun 2003 12:14:56 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1233 Re: Edmund

[3]     From:   Tom Pendleton <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 Jun 2003 21:11:02 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1233 Re: Edmund


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Friday, 20 Jun 2003 09:46:54 -0400
Subject:        Edmund

Doug Eskew writes:

"Once Gloucester has dispossessed Edgar, he has lost the bond between
father and son. Faced with this lack, the 'whoreson' turns out to be
enough of a son to fulfill this need."

Right!  Gloucester and Lear live on the level of conventions. Neither
really knows the true meaning of love as the play opens. Lear
understands only one emotion: gratitude. Everybody should be infinitely
grateful to him for whatever he does. Gloucester, it seems to me, tells
Kent that he loves both of his sons equally only because it sounds good.
Both old men are selfish in their orientation. Both need to be judged by
their actions, not their words.  Isn't a central point of the opening
scene that words can be empty?

A lot of critics have focused on how awful the younger generation is in
_King Lear_. The older generation is pretty awful too.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alberto Cacicedo <
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Date:           Friday, 20 Jun 2003 12:14:56 -0400
Subject: 14.1233 Re: Edmund
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1233 Re: Edmund

In response to Carol Barton's idea that Gloucester is teasing Edmund at
the beginning of Lear, I don't think that Edmund himself, at any rate,
sees daddy's behavior as "affectionate teasing." It's clear that Edmund
is meeting Kent for the first time, for instance, and it's only
relatively less clear that Edmund is embarrassed by what his father is
saying about him, about his mother, and about his illegitimacy
(something made absolutely evident in the opening soliloquy of 1.2).
Kent seems equally embarrassed by it all, and attempts to pass off
Gloucester's boorishness as politely as possible. Again only relatively
less clear is Gloucester's own discomfort with his bastard son. For me,
the locker room language with which Gloucester describes Edmund's
"getting" is "manly" bluster, which rather emphasizes the unease
Gloucester feels at having his son present at court --hence off he'll
send Edmund as soon as he can. And yes, no doubt, once Gloucester is
convinced that Edgar is a bastard (in the sense that Lear calls the
legitimate Goneril a "degenerate bastard") he turns his attention to
Edmund. As an index of how much affection goes with that turning, I find
the dialog at 2.1.37ff interesting, however: Gloucester enters in search
of Edgar, ignores Edmund's self-inflicted wound, insists on discovering
Edgar, and so forces Edmund to call attention to his own wound. How the
scene might be played is up to a director, of course, but there is
nothing in the language of the scene that indicates Gloucester's noting
Edmund's wound until finally he mentions it at 2.1.107-108. My
directorial choice would be to have Gloucester continue to ignore
Edmund's wound as he seeks for Edgar. To my mind, it all leads to the
pathetic "Yet Edmund was belov'd" in the final scene of the play.

In the midst of wind, rain, thunder, lightning,
Alberto Cacicedo
Albright College

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Pendleton <
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Date:           Friday, 20 Jun 2003 21:11:02 -0400
Subject: 14.1233 Re: Edmund
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1233 Re: Edmund

A couple of Edmund and France things:

At the beginning of the play Gloucester tells us that he loves his
illegitimate son, Edmund, as much as he loves his legitimate son, Edgar
(1.1.19-20), and at the opening of Act 1, scene 2, Edmund, and in
soliloquy, tells us the same thing (1.2.17-18).  It would seem that
Shakespeare wanted us to accept that Edmund was "beloved" by his father,
and I don't think that whatever shortcomings in Gloucester's manner of
loving his son we may claim cancels out this fact.

As for Lear's being eighty, the evidence is his own saying he's
"Fourscore and upward, not an hour more or less" (4.7.60).  He is of
course "old," but the combination of approximation and exactitude
shouldn't be treated as equivalently reliable as Iago's having looked on
the world for four times seven years.

Tom Pendleton

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