The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0496  Friday, 20 February 2004

From:           Edward Pixley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Feb 2004 09:54:31 -0500
Subject: 15.0465 Richard III and Soames Forsythe
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0465 Richard III and Soames Forsythe

 >Richard III certainly doesn't have this (Gollum/Smeagol) internal
 >struggle.  The night before Bosworth Richard has a moment of self-pity
 >but it doesn't even amount to remorse. Just before his death Edmund does
 >have moment of regret, "I pant for life: some good I mean to do Despite
 >of mine own nature" (V.iii.245). Iago is a classic vice apparently
 >without an internal conflict and is mute at the end. Clarence's
 >assassins do engage in ethical debate but also regard remorse as an
 >occupational hazard and do the deed anyway.  Camillo does not want to be
 >an assassin and reinforces it with reasoning. I can't think of a
 >character that refrains from "evil", knowing it to be so, following a
 >negotiation between their better and worse selves. Angelo perhaps comes
 >closest. Can anyone suggest an example?
 >Dan Smith

Macbeth, of course, is the paradigm of this internal struggle.  First he
is tempted by the witch's prophecy, then urged on by his wife's
ambition. But he argues at every point.  After his II:7 soliloquy, in
which he presents all the arguments against the deed, he tells the Lady,
"We will proceed no further in this business."  Then following the deed,
he is incapable of clearing away the blood, rather contemplating his
bloody hands and his own damned condition. "Wake Duncan with thy
knocking.  I would thought couldst." His paranoia following the deed
reemphasize his failure to assimilate himself to his own evil condition.
  On his wife's death, he seems almost reduced to inaction from his own
guilt, or, perhaps worse, his incapacity for even feeling guilt, but he
at last resolves it all in his final commitment to battling Macduff:
:"Damn'd be he who first cries, Hold!  Enough."

Ed Pixley

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