The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1286  Friday, 10 May 2002

From:           Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 09 May 2002 12:54:05 -0400
Subject:        Edgar&Edmund

Clifford Stetner writes:

>Gloucester's blindness rather than being self imposed is imposed
>by the Machiavellian machinations of others (as Prospero was blind to
>Antonio's evil and Alonso to Sebastian's).  After allowing himself to be
>fooled into making the same kind of bad choice made by Lear between
>good and bad heirs, he is visited with an Oedipal punishment i.e. from
>metaphorical to physical blindness.

I have to agree with you too, Cliff, so if I indicated otherwise in a
previous post, I apologize. I'd only add three observations. First,
Gloucester's blinding is a sort of displaced castration -- actually,
blinding was half of the prescribed punishment for rape, the other half
being the loss of the genitals themselves. His punishment is
appropriate, though severe, for his apparent abuse of lower-class women
in the past.

Second, the punishment makes him helpless and dependent, just the
position that his sons were in at the start of the play.

Third, Gloucester's punishment is oddly linked to Lear, and in two ways:
first, one of Lear's daughters, not one of Gloucester's sons, insists on
his punishment; and, second, and perhaps more interestingly, part of
Regan's wrath seems generated by Gloucester's white beard, which reminds
her of her own father, Lear.


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