The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1233  Friday, 20 June 2003

From:           Douglas Eskew <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Jun 2003 13:39:49 -0500
Subject: 14.1206 Re: Edmund
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1206 Re: Edmund

Carol Barton writes:

>I don't see Gloucester's affectionate teasing of the
>bastard he openly acknowledges as his son (at law or not) as dismissive
>or deprecating: rather, if he thinks so little of Edmund, and says what
>he says to ridicule the boy, why does he trust him so unquestioningly
>when Edmund "reveals" the contents of "Edgar's" letter?

I think that the answer involves the movement of time. Gloucester has
different needs at different moments in the play. He can dismiss and
ridicule Edmund in the first scene and treat him differently as the play
progresses. 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. As far as trustworthiness
goes, Edmund's schemes don't just incriminate Edgar, they portray Edmund
himself as a trustworthy son. All of this occurs after the play's
opening scene. Gloucester's attitude may be seen as "affectionate
teasing"; however, I think that such a view finds less support if we
consider how the play's characters adopt new attitudes as their world


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