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-- 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.

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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 453

When the others depart, then, he must be left behind, and surely would not go off without a word. (2) If his speech is spurious, therefore, it has been substituted for some genuine speech; and surely that is a supposition not to be entertained except under compulsion. (3) There is no such compulsion in the speech. It is not very good, no doubt; but the use of rhymed and somewhat antithetic lines in a gnomic passage is quite in Shakespeare's manner, more in his manner than, for example, the rhymed passages in I. i. 183-190, 257-269, 281-4, which nobody doubts; quite like many places in All's Well, or the concluding lines of King Lear itself. (4) The lines are in spirit of one kind with Edgar's fine lines at the beginning of Act IV. (5) Some of them, as Delius observes, emphasize the parallelism between the stories of Lear and Gloster. (6) The fact that the Folio omits the lines is, of course, nothing against them.




     As Koppel has shown, the usual modern stage-directions1 for this scene (IV. vii.) are utterly wrong and do what they can to defeat the poet's purpose.

     It is evident from the text that the scene shows the first meeting of Cordelia and Kent, and the first meeting of Cordelia and Lear, since they parted in I. i. Kent and Cordelia indeed are doubtless supposed to have exchanged a few words before they come on the stage; but Cordelia has not seen her father at all until the moment before she begins (line 26), 'O my dear father!' Hence the tone of the first part of the scene, that between Cordelia and Kent, is kept low, in order that the latter part, between Cordelia and Lear, may have its full effect.

     The modern stage-direction at the beginning of the scene, as found, for example, in the Cambridge and Globe editions, is as follows:

   1There are exceptions: e.g., in the editions of Delius and Mr. W. J. Craig.

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