Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

Table of ContentsPrevious PageNext Page

Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 450
NOTES ON KING LEAR

be imagined quite close to Cornwall's, for it takes a night to ride from the one to the other, and Gloster's house is in the middle of a solitary heath with scarce a bush for many miles about (II. iv. 304)

     The plural 'these letters' in the passage quoted need give no trouble, for the plural is often used by Shakespeare for a single letter; and the natural conjecture that Lear sent one letter to Regan and another to Gloster is not confirmed by anything in the text.

     The only difficulty is that, as Koppel points out, 'Gloster' is nowhere else used in the play for the place (except in the phrase 'Earl of Gloster' or 'my lord of Gloster'); and -- what is more important -- that it would unquestionably be taken by the audience to stand in this passage for the Earl, especially as there has been no previous indication that Cornwall lived at Gloster. One can only suppose that Shakespeare forgot that he had given no such indication, and so wrote what was sure to be misunderstood -- unless we suppose that 'Gloster' is a mere slip of the pen, or even a misprint, for 'Regan'. But, apart from other considerations, Lear would hardly have spoken to a servant of 'Regan,' and, if he had, the next words would have run 'Acquaint her,' not 'Acquaint my daughter.'

 

NOTE V.

SUSPECTED INTERPOLATIONS IN
KING LEAR

     There are three passages in King Lear which have been held to be additions made by 'the players.'

     The first consists of the two lines of indecent doggerel spoken by the Fool at the end of Act I; the second, of the Fool's prophecy in rhyme at the end of III. ii.; the third, of Edgar's soliloquy at the end of III. vi.

     It is suspicious (1) that all three passages occur at the ends of scenes, the place where an addition is most easily made; and (2) that in each case the speaker remains behind alone to utter the words after the other persons have gone off.

Table of ContentsPrevious PageNext Page