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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: May ::
What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?
  The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0486  Tuesday, 23 May 2006

[1] 	From: 	Sandra Sparks <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, 23 May 2006 07:02:17 -0400
 	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0474 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?

[2] 	From: 	John Crowley <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, 23 May 2006 10:37:04 -0400
 	Subj: 	What Happens to the Fool

[3] 	From: 	Hardy M. Cook <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, May 23, 2006
 	Subj: 	What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Sandra Sparks <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 23 May 2006 07:02:17 -0400
Subject: 17.0474 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0474 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?

I much prefer the idea repeated in Peter Ackroyd's biography of 
Shakespeare: that originally Cordelia and the Fool were played by the same 
person. Gives a different depth to the line he speaks over Cordelia's 
body. I would like to see that casting done again.

Sandra Sparks

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Crowley <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 23 May 2006 10:37:04 -0400
Subject: 	What Happens to the Fool

I can't see that the line is problematic at all.  Disaster has come in all 
aspects of life; people are dying on all sides.  Lear mentions the fool 
dying the way anyone would report on more disasters of war.  It's exactly 
this suddenly-coming-to-mind of one more blow that makes it so poignant: 
amid all the things that have befallen me and my kingdom, there is this 
one too, that in a different time I might have time or space to mourn. 
These deaths in war announced casually -- aren't there more in 
Shakespeare?  The hanging of Nym and Bardolph in Henry V, for instance.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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Date: 		Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Subject: 	What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?

The issue that the roles of Cordelia and the Fool were doubled has been 
discussed and discussed on SHAKSPER over the years. The most recent of 
which was initiated by me on March 21 
<http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2006/0191.html> as an example of an 
"unprovable but currently discredited assertions" that appears throughout 
Ackroyd's <I>Shakespeare: The Biography</I>. I concluded with "Isn't it 
generally assumed that Robert Armin played the Fool in <I>Lear</I>? And 
isn't it unlikely, if not preposterous, that Armin would double the part 
of Cordelia, which most certainly was played by a "boy" of the company?"

Bill Lloyd made the penultimate post in this discussion 
<http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2006/0260.html>:

I don't myself necessarily believe in the Jacobean doubling of Cordelia 
and the Fool, but there are several things that might tend to support it 
which I haven't seen mentioned here.

I believe it's been suggested [though I can't recall exactly where] that 
Robert Armin did not play the Fool because he was playing Edgar. The mad 
Tom o' Bedlam character is similar to John of the Hospital, a character 
that Armin created and played in his play Two Maids of Moreclack.

[ . . . ]

The believers in the Cordelia/Fool doubling sometimes assume that Armin 
would've have played both roles, but this is a virtual impossibility. 
Armin was about 37 years old in 1605, and it has been shown decisively 
[see Dave Kathman's "How Old Were Shakespeare's Boy Actors?" in the latest 
Shakespeare Survey] that women on the Elizabethan stage were played by 
teenage boys. If the doubling were to occur it must have been the boy 
actor of Cordelia playing the fool, so it is perhaps worth noting that 
Lear repeatedly addresses his fool as "boy".

I found this entire thread thoughtful and stimulating.

My concern as moderator is that when we discuss a chestnut (<I>OED</I> A. 
7.) that we have something new or substantial to contribute or add to the 
body of knowledge on the subject.


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