The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0709 Sunday, 21 October 2007
From: Martin Mueller <
Date: Thursday, 18 Oct 2007 11:38:36 -0500
Subject: Cordelia and Antigone
In the authorial intention thread, Caro Barton asks "Is Cordelia the
wronged innocent, or a stubborn reflection of her stubborn old man?"
This is a really nice question to which one obvious answer is "both."
Another way of pursuing the question is to ask why you might ask it just
as well of Antigone. In fact, the Chorus of that play speculates on
Antigone's having inherited her father's ferocious disposition.
Is there a historical line (rather than mere analogy) that stretches
from Antigone to Cordelia? Quite a few years ago, a student of mine
(Todd Trubey) wrote a very interesting seminar paper that he never
published. It followed the Gloucester subplot into the story of the
Paphlagonian king. It doesn't take you very long to recognize that
you're in the world of the decrepit and blind Oedipus, and the paper
argued very interestingly that the common analogies between Lear and
Oedipus may have a fairly strong source relation basis.
Even if you make modest assumptions about Shakespeare's mostly indirect
knowledge of Greek (he's not unlike Ibsen in that regard), the
possibility of seeing Cordelia AS Antigone is clearly within his reach.
And seeing Cordelia AS Antigone is a helpful thing to do, just as it is
helpful and almost certainly historically accurate to see Mozart's Donna
Anna AS an Electra.
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