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TOPIC: King Lear help please

King Lear help please 6 years 8 months ago #1558

Charles wrote:
shakespeare wrote:
...Some say that the Fool only existed in Lear's imagination and was never real — just part of his madness. Partially supporting this is the Fool's mysterious disappearance after his prophecy in III, 2...
I don't even want to comment on the Fool as Lear's illegitimate son, but as for only existing in Lear's imagination, I have to wonder how we would account for the interaction the Fool has with other characters such as Goneril who specifically recognizes his existence:
Not only, sir, this your all-licens'd fool,
But other of your insolent retinue
Do hourly carp and quarrel, breaking forth
In rank and not-to-be-endured riots.

I'm not going to make a case for either of those points, just suggesting that there possibly could be. Goneril isn't the only one who addresses the Fool and it could conceivably be understood to be another part of Lear's psyche. It's not far-fetched to have people address these other "personalities" as if they really existed. Like I said, I have no stake to claim, just throwing it out as food for thought.
Charles wrote:
I don't even want to comment on the Fool as Lear's illegitimate son,

There's actually probably more substance behind this one than the previous point. But same case here...I don't have a dog in that fight. :)
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King Lear help please 6 years 8 months ago #1559

shakespeare wrote:
...it could conceivably be understood to be another part of Lear's psyche. It's not far-fetched to have people address these other "personalities" as if they really existed.Charles wrote:
I don't even want to comment on the Fool as Lear's illegitimate son,
There's actually probably more substance behind this one than the previous point. But same case here...I don't have a dog in that fight. :)
I understand this is not your argument but I certainly would appreciate further clarification on both points. Particularly, how does one within the context of the play indicate to the audience that the Fool is a "part of Lear's psyche", and more incredibly, convince the viewers that other characters in the play understand and willingly interact with aspects of "Lear's psyche".

On the other point, while bastardy is an important element in the play - again, how would it be possible to convey to the audience that the Fool is Lear's illegitimate son, and if you could - why would you - in your opinion (as devil's advocate) what would it add to the play?

Regards, Charles
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King Lear help please 6 years 8 months ago #1561

  • Joe M.
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A Fool Explained?

Isn't the moniker "fool" itself, the only way of ultimately explaining unexplainable, 'irrational', behavior observed in another? Yet we must attempt to 'name'--categorize, list, 'explain' what we know will, despite our best attempts, continue to go Un-explained. Extrapolation is a good thing, however, even though it might lead to our own unexplainable pronouncements in our sometimes 'foolish' attempts to bring to an end, the maddening ellipsis, of seeking that which we, in truth, already know we will not find. So we bring it to a 'conclusive' end, this 'thinking', and attempt to move on, having
'proved' how logical our conjecture is (in essence, accepting the great relief we offer to ourselves in our own 'sensible' conclusion). The trouble is, like Aquinas' proving the existence of God, we operate, from the beginning, from our own set of premises. Freud did it, Skinner did it, Aristotle, Plato, Nietzsche, Sartre (although the latter two less so)...the list goes on.

Explaining the Fool's existence--the mysteriousness of his character, and--the topper: his own self-association with the likes of Merlin and subsequent disappearance at the end of an Incantatory List of a Soliloquy, which Harold Bloom describes as "...a fine chant of nonsense...", understandably, might lead where it has; one might even argue that it must. Bloom is content to leave it as a question, agreeing, I believe, with Shakespeare's intent to once again leave the Question for us to ponder "Why?". This time, however, Shakespeare does it in a very big way, asking us to confront, along with him, the all too discomfiting realm of Existentialism as never before. In terms of philosophical practicality, the Fool serves as a buffer; an explanation in Himself for monumental foolishness, unexplainable in Lear's character.

And although I agree with his analysis of the Foole as a practical "tool" for our edification and comfort, as a foil to our lack of an ability (or sometimes desire) to get close to Lear, I disagree with Bloom's assessment of the Foole's 'Merlin' speech. Read closely, it becomes an existentialist manifesto. In the nature of its futility, the examples given, and even in the structure itself, lies a more far-reaching dichotomy--Both an a posteriori AND an a priori realization: The knowledge that looking, however desperately, for answers & solutions to the impossible opposites that face us, is hardly worth the energy lost in the seeking, or in breath used to utter the 'answers' once 'found'--yet we must; either railing in madness like Lear, or speaking in brilliant riddles like the Foole; until we 'disappear'.
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King Lear help please 6 years 8 months ago #1562

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...but I certainly would appreciate further clarification on both points. Particularly, how does one within the context of the play indicate to the audience that the Fool is a "part of Lear's psyche", and more incredibly, convince the viewers that other characters in the play understand and willingly interact with aspects of "Lear's psyche".
_________________________
Isn't that the Jack Nicholson version? :)
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King Lear help please 6 years 8 months ago #1563

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Before God we are all equally wise - and equally foolish.

Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.

I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation and is but a reflection of human frailty.

In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.

The only source of knowledge is experience.

There is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while.

Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized.
Albert Einstein

And one for the ‘the Fool is Lear’s son/fantasy brigade’:

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
:idea:
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King Lear help please 6 years 8 months ago #1564

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What does Shakespeare mean by ....?

Is this the right question?

:twisted:
Shakespeare thinks ....

Does he? Or does he ask questions so that we think?

:roll:

It was the common method of teaching in both school and church to take a quote (sometimes biblical, sometimes classical, sometimes 'commonsensical' ) and break it down, illustrate and elaborate - and counter with a paradoxical equal!

All Shakespeare's plays were originally seen with the eyes and minds of people who knew a lot of quotes and applied them - and knew the quotes Shakespeare was playing with.

Shakespeare doesn't mean anything - he doesn't think anything - he asks what does this mean and what do you think?

:shock:
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King Lear help please 6 years 8 months ago #1565

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Willshill wrote:
...but I certainly would appreciate further clarification on both points. Particularly, how does one within the context of the play indicate to the audience that the Fool is a "part of Lear's psyche", and more incredibly, convince the viewers that other characters in the play understand and willingly interact with aspects of "Lear's psyche".
_________________________
Isn't that the Jack Nicholson version? :)

Ermmm - I think an earlier post of mine tackles a fundimntal here:

http://www.playshakespeare.com/forum/vi ... .php?t=147

But both treatments of the fool fit quite comfortably into the written script - especially if Greer is right in her statement about Lear himself declining mentally through senility.

A Lear 'in Lear's mind' would be easy to stage - and easier to film.

Don't forget, All the World's a Stage - all is illusion anyway so there is no reality visible anyway.
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King Lear help please 6 years 8 months ago #1566

akfarrar wrote:
A Lear 'in Lear's mind' would be easy to stage - and easier to film.
I guess what I really mean is: if this was Shakespeare's intention, then how do you believe he would have staged it so that the audience would see the Fool as only a figment of Lear's psyche? Particularly when he addresses and is addressed by other characters in the play.

I understand that in today's theater/film productions there are means to attempt this, but how and more importantly why, in Shakespeare's time?

Regard, Charles
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King Lear help please 6 years 8 months ago #1567

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Speak of the Divell...
Read your post at the link...
Although I agree with you in essence, ak, there is much to
consider. A few choice excerpts from an MIT discussion on “Remixing Shakespeare”: (all ital./bold mine—unabated asides as well)
:)


Diana Henderson is professor of Literature and author of Collaborations with the Past: Reshaping Shakespeare Across Time and Media; A Concise Companion to Shakespeare on Screen and Passion Made Public: Elizabethan Lyric, Gender and Performance. She is an active participant in MIT's partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Peter Donaldson is professor of Literature, a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and director of the Shakespeare Electronic Archive. Since 1992, the Archive has used computers to develop new ways of studying the text, image and film records of Shakespearean publication and production.
[edit]
Henderson: Beyond the mixing and merging that was going on, the nature of many of the arts – in particular the visual arts – was undergoing change during Shakespeare's day. Theater, from its beginning, was a collaborative art form. Shakespeare was working at a point in time when people would rewrite one's work. This was the case with Littleton's addition of the Hecate speech to Macbeth after Shakespeare retired to Stratford.

During The Restoration, when Shakespeare had been dead for about 50 years and had been monumentalized to some extent, people felt they needed to keep him in the repertory, but only with extensive rewriting. A famous example of this is the rewriting by Tate of a happy ending to King Lear, in which the king gets the throne and Edwin and Cordelia have a romantic relationship.

In this case, the rewritten text speaks to a generation that has just lived through a usurpation of the throne or the killing of the king, but how can we explain the fact that for the next 150 years people continued to perform Tate's Lear instead of Shakespeare's? It wasn't as though they weren't aware of the original version since it continued to be available in print, or that they continued to worry about the fate of the King. Yet it wasn't until 1837 that Charles Macready put the original ending back on stage.


The Restoration also saw the addition of song and dance to Shakespeare's work. Macbeth as a musical seems strange to us today, but it really isn't that different from Othello as an opera. [A clip is shown] Throughout the filmed version of the opera people can be seen looking in, looking through, consciously observing and spying – which ties to those themes in the text of the play.

But is this still Shakespeare? If it isn't the actual language can it still be Shakespeare? Is it still Shakespeare if you modify so many dimensions of the story? Most of us would say yes, even though we aren't likely to be as charitable with some of the earlier remixes. Can it still be Shakespeare if you don't have sound or words – just title cards? The ability to remix Shakespeare across time, medium, andculture is one of the reasons he has remained so relevant and important.

[edit]
Donaldson: We live within these professional shifting sands. Fifteen years ago people would have assumed that it couldn't be Shakespeare if the language wasn't there; and now we take almost the opposite view._
______________________________________________________________________
HOW SAD IS THIS?
_______________________________________________________________________
Henderson: Today the most successful and popular remixes shift so much: time, culture, language – everything. This may also say something about language-centric analysis.

___________________________________________________________________________
--Well yes, indeed, that might be something to consider; given the fact that the Plays employ the written/spoken word. Why glance in askance, however studiously, in the direction of those that might think striking Shakespeare's vehicle of genius from his hands is no small matter?—Particularly if the offender, (standing very proudly abreast, one might assume) claims it to be Shakespeare's “work” as well as his own?
_____________________________________ ________________________________

Henderson: One thing that we haven't touched on today is the role of liveness and the part that plays in the dimension of theatricality that works so well in Shakespeare.
While Shakespeare works well on the screen we have certainly lost at least one of the key dimensions of his work.


They wax and wane, bestow legitimacy, and just as quickly contradict it. Why the mincing? Yes, Shakespeare is HIGHLY 'adaptable'-but there is no doubt in my mind as to when it becomes Shakespeare----NOT. Don't mess wit da Wordsmith of All Time.

Read the entire discussion here:
http://web.mit.edu/comm-forum/forums/re ... peare.html

The Peter Sellers as Olivier link is priceless; although I doubt that either Sellers or the Beatles were contemplating as easily as are our above two professors on whether it was something 'Shakespeare-like', or was not 'indeed' Shakespeare. Cheers.
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King Lear help please 6 years 8 months ago #1572

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In my final copy I was planning on writing something about the signifigance of nature. I also have an understanding that in the Elizabethian period they believed that the natural world reflected a heirarchy that mirrored good gov't and a stable monarch. His era also reflected "natural" and "unnatural" behaviors: unnatural behaviors included mistreating family members, which could upset the natural order. The major message i get from the play is that people in Shakespeares time and maybe even himself believed there was NO GOD and that the comforts of religion are make- believe. I also think Shakespeare saw peopleas not being good by nature or by customs or laws. I get a very skeptical view of human nature from Lear, that the only hope we as human beings have is that we can try to be decent and generous to one another. I had to come up with the two most signifigant themes besides the themes represented in questions two through 5. I am thinking nature and misjudgement or nature and cruelty or even deception or greed. Any thoughts?
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