Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0152.  Friday, 25 February 1994.
From:           David Bank <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 24 Feb 94 19:00:09 GMT
Subject: 5.0131 Q: *King Lear*: 1.4 Business
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0131 Q: *King Lear*: 1.4 Business
I'm puzzled by Tom Hodges problem with *KL* 1.4. Not only is there no need for
Kent to kneel to Lear at this point; I imagine that doing so would confuse or
distract the audience's understanding of what is really going on. Kent has
returned to Lear after banishment, in disguise. He is going to watch over the
old fool like an earthly Providence, who
                             in disguise
Followed his enemy king, and did him service
Improper for a slave.                              (5.iii.219-221)
The *disguise* part of Kent's heroic love for Lear must, I think, be
complemented by an *affected distance*. Kent 'doesn't know' Lear either by
acquaintance or as the King (1.iv.20). Kent at this point discards the manners
of the courtier and adopts what Cornwall is later to call "a saucy roughness" -
i.e. bluntness, directness amounting at times to insolence, the manner of a
landless man for hire. The exchanges in 1.iv. between Kent and Lear should
simply be played as a 'master and servant' discourse. The ironies of
"Authority" at 1.iv. 30 otherwise get squashed flat.
David Bank
University of Glasgow

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