Metaphysical roots of the drama; Unaccommodated Man in King Lear
But he need not call on the guards to stand up for bastards. He would naturally call on nature because he is the son of nature he worships Macchiavelli Macchiavelli his goddess Fortuna that accidental goddess whose wheel turns and where it falls nobody knows. And here of course except the purely accidental and fortuitous universe which is not going to punish him for being evil. So why not give way to his most of the business. His most lecherous. And his most powerful instincts. Now the decent characters in the play are separated from the evil characters by seeing some design in the universe. But the evil seed only chance. So if there's nothing but chance why not follow your passion. Why pay even lip service to virtue if you are not his by the way that he Argo in Othello has exactly the same attitudes as Edmund and their blood brothers. When the Argos says.
Speaking about virtue and laughing at it he is called virtuous and ourselves that we are best of us he is appealing to nature as a goddess to our bodies our gardens to the which our wills are God knows so that if we were planned that also so let us said hyssop and we'd up time supplied with one gender a verb so distracted with many I had to have it sterile with idleness all manured with industry wide the power and incorrigible authority of this lies and we'll see if the balance of our lives have not one scale of reasons of poise another ascent to our life the blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us to must be prosperous conclusions. But we have reason to cool our raging emotions our carnal stings our own bitted lusts. Wherefore I take this that you call love to be a sect for science. It cannot be said Rodriguez when he says it is merely a loss to the blood and the permission of the will. So this is a man Holy cold as admin as a man holy
cult ruled by reason and Rob is merely a word a permission of your will to sex. You are complete control of your body and you are only permitted to do it only does what you commit the same with Adam and his body will do what he permits it to do and his own actions will be strictly under his own surveillance there is nothing about him. There are no concepts virtue is nothing. It's a word. A breath is a breath a word is a breath a word. The only thing that really exists is what you will yourself to do. Now this is appealing to nature with a vengeance. Now a. Blaster has a belief in astrology. His later clips a speech sounds like astrological hocus pocus. And when Edmund parodies it of course we immediately identify ourselves with Edmund the ghosts. We don't believe in a.
Thing it's a rule by the way the stars are or happen to be noting each other at that moment. These late eclipses of the sun and moon 410 no good to us as the last of the wisdom of nature can reason and thus and thus yet Nature find themselves courage by the sequin effects love cools friendship pulls our brothers divide in cities mutinies and countries discord and powerlessness treason and the crack twixt son and father. We have seen the best of our time machinations hollowness treachery and all ruinous disorders follow us disquiet lead to our graves. But Edmund says no as I say we give them our assent. This is the actual For prove the world that we are when we are sick and fortune often the surfeit of our own behavior we make guilty of our disasters the sun the moon and the stars as if we were villains by the cess of the fools by heavenly compulsion knaves thieves and treacherous by satirical predominance drunkards liars and adulterers by it and force the BDM of
planetary influence and or that we are evil in by a divine trusting and admirable evasion of whoremaster man to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star. Tut I should have been that I am had the maidenly a star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. It isn't ourselves that we are dust and dust. In other words and to apply this to a satirical astrological conjunction of planets and stars is sheer nonsense. But although we respond more to Edmond's interpretation of events you should know that the Elizabethans believed in the governance of star. I believe that we were governed by what part of the stars happened to be in at that particular moment of the month. And so we can assume that Shakespeare believed in the governance by the star. In fact later on in the play Kant tells us. That it is the stars indeed that
make us what we are. It is the stars the stars above us govern our conditions. Else one self mate and mate could not beget such different issues. He's talking about leader's capacity for having two completely different kinds of daughters. Now those who worship nature alone like good men like Iago like Goneril like Reagan are in Shakespeare's notion the most unnatural and that's the paradox of the play. But those who worship nature are themselves and they are unnatural and Lear will get a glimpse into nature gone mad when he goes on to the heath during the storm. And in this great storm scene we find A Mighty Heart kicking against you awareness of evil. But accepting it he begins as a splenetic man easily met. The best and sounded the soundest of his time had been but rash so it's gone. He lacks all patience and moderation.
Can't you remember doesn't notice his treatment of called Delia as madness. And it's interesting about leo that in the beginning when he was saying he was most mad and when he goes mad he will have a kind of elusive penetration of reality. His slender patience finally breaks at the moment we hear thunder storm and lightning offstage and the coming of a storm. And of course the contention of the elements above is a kind of objective Corella the full leader's own road which is now burst out finally and is trying to find a proper expression in the elements. To express the intensity and extremity of his feelings. Now he has a certain impotence before the storm. And before his own daughter's. Nature at its most inhuman is the only thing that expresses his feelings most fully. And then the storm scene we have images of things breaking and cracking and germinated. He wants to destroy
entirely all of ungrateful humanity. He wants as it were to bring chaos into the world again because his own mind and his own history is now totally chaotic. Blow winds and crack your cheeks rage blow your cataracts and have a kind of spark till you have drenched our steeples drowned the cocks you sulphurous some thought executing fires for want Koreas to Oke leaving fundable singed my white head and all shaking found the Smite flap the thick brick tundra of the world crack nature's molds all German spit at once. That makes him grateful man. Spill the Germans get rid of the seeds and finish mankind all together. Then he turns to the elements and finds them kinder than his daughters. I tax not you you elements with unkindness. I never gave you kingdom called you children you owe me no subscription. But yet I call you serve our ministers that have worked to
punish his daughters joined your I engendered battles against the head sold and why has this. Well. He seems to be absolving the start of being kinder than his daughters Sometimes he sees it as being in league with his daughters. He's confused. Blair goes mad. But now his madness becomes as I say more lucid than the sanity of others. He sees things with absolute clarity now. And what he sees is absolute evil absolute injustice. He sees the extreme importance of seeming in our world the capacity to cover greed lust murder anything you want with sufficient. Outsize importance outside us. They flashed at me like a dog and told me I had white hairs in my beard and the black ones were there to say I am no to everything that I said. I know to was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me
once in the wind to make me chatter when the thunder would not peace at my bidding. There I found them there I smelt them out go to and they are not men of their words. They told me I was everything. Is a lie. I am not a sheikh. I'm not I think you prove. That or you to either. Then he goes on to his vision of justice in this world and this is probably the most powerful moment in all of the play. Yes now you suddenly discovered what liers justice justice in the his kingdom really amounts to. It is outside I pardon that man's life. What was the cause adultery. Thou shalt not die die from adultery. No the man goes to it and the small gilded fly doesn't matter in my sight. In other words this is natural even ran as birds beasts lecture in front of him why should a doctrine be unnatural for human beings. Let copulation thrive. Blasters bastard son was
kind to his father and my daughter's got tween the awful sheets to my luxury pell mell for I lack soldiers. Behold yon simpering dame whose face between a faux persay just know that mince is virtue and to shake the head to hear a pleasure's name the fits you know the soil the horse goes to it with a more riotous appetite. Down from the waist they are centaurs the women all above. But to the good old of the gods inherit the need. There's all the fiends terrible vision the Puritan woman who turns up her nose at all forms of sexuality as herself writers. And lusts. After all of mankind. That man is built into parts. Godlike from the waist up lectures and diabolical from the waist down out of control. Or rather in the control. Of nation. So the justice of mankind and the justice of nature are only as mine. Absolutely compatible. They are the same. It's just that
man assumes certain hypocritical stances that nature at least has the good grace not to assume only man pretends to be benign. At least nature concedes its own malevolence and fury. So man is a victim of the will. Natural will. The judge is just as corrupt as the thief. It's just that he wears clothes that the try to convince you he's not corrupt. Men and women are driven by me. It's beneath their waists. All of life is based on social political injustice. Now Liz vision which is terrible. Seems to be seconded by Shakespeare because what we see in the course of the play is that this nature under which all of the characters a living will eventually punish the evil. But unfortunately it will not protect the innocent. Everybody gives way before a lot of plaster and all in a book you will be calling almost plaintive Lee for some
example from nature to quell human rights. They want nature to be better than humanity. But of course it cannot be. Let the Suppressive Person Last dieted man the slaves your ordinance says blaster that will not see because he does not feel feel your power quickly. So distribution shouldn't do excess. And each man have enough. That's what he's saying is Heaven's please be just to set some example to mankind. In Albany very quickly after says send quickly down to tame these vile offenses it will if the Devils do not their visible spirits. Send quickly down to tame these vile offenses it will come. Humanity must perforce prey on itself like monsters of the deep. That is precisely what they are doing. Humanity is preying on itself like monsters from the deep. So we have philosophical attitudes are going to have to be worked out somehow. There are two views prevalent in this play.
The first view is that only evil can prevail in this world. The second is that the universe despite appearances to the contrary is ultimately just. There is the view of Gloucester before his conversion. When he says as flies to wanton boys we are to the gods they kill us for their sport. The notion of a man icky in a world where the gods look down upon us and pull our wings apart to amuse themselves. And the view of the sun at here. When he says rightness is all. When he says. I will believe that only the stoic can adopt the proper attitude in the face of his faith. He believes that the good of the world tally the evil of the world to some extent and if good is punished. Well Saul then is evil. Now Edgar must prove to his father that the gods have some benevolence that he is wrong about them but they don't pull your wings off for their pleasure.
Ironically he proves this to his father through a ruse a stratagem he makes blasters trying to commit suicide you remember and you make some think he's jumped off a cliff when he's just jumped a couple feet in front of him. And as a result of this ruse Gloster is converted to endure stoicism and accept that you ever gentle gods take my breath from me let not my wrists a spirit tempt me again to die before you please. So the reconciliation of blasters temperament is found and stoical insurance stoicism however is the philosophy of a dying world. A world in which man cannot act to save himself. A world in which men cannot act to improve or change the lot of others. It's a philosophy of defeat. A philosophy the same saves a man from ultimate frustration gives him some avenues of action.
But not many. And a philosophy in fact will probably become pretty popular again in our own time. In the face of our own frustrations impotence. And anguish being unable to function actively. Towards what is oppressing us. But this star system that plaster affirms is the conclusion of a subplot. It isn't the conclusion of the main plot. Shakespeare is clearly Bill parallels between these two plots very carefully. Gloster like Lear is blind. When he sees and only sees when he goes blind. Like Oedipus too he's blind to who is truly virtuous child there's things that. Goneril and Regan a virtuous and so must soon learn their vicious. Gloucester thinks a dead man is virtuous and must soon learn his vicious. Likelier Gloster divides as a stake. Childhood as I father says Gloucester about there. But he's only half the man that liras Lear acts on his own. Gloucester must be
manipulated into his actions by his son. Oh by his son Edmund he is an instrument in the hands of someone else and you'll notice the glass to ascend is extreme gullibility rather than extreme pride presumption. He's a much more middling character much more like us in fact than his Lear he has no real poetry in him and he really under doesn't undergo suffering in extremis he suffers terribly but not rowing likely or out of the suffering only come homily as an aphorism. The line you remember of last year is and that's true too. Whenever I want to sign it because as I said that's true too. Leo would never say that he's never led by anyone he's the one that discovers the truth and the visionary has the vision. Most important Lear ends up seeing much more deeply than Gloucester. And suffering much more deeply than Gloucester to at the end of his great rages past the tempest is over all his passion is
spent. He has awakened to find a ministering angel in the shape of quote Delia. Tending him tending him in his illness and what he has discovered is the poignancy and beauty of paternal love. He's found a value in this world which is to love his child. And this love has made him look lose interest completely and power in land. And ceremony in accommodation. But the terrible thing about this play is that Shakespeare doesn't let us stop here. Every other artist would stop here but Shakespeare won't and he withholds from Lior even this final solace even this final comfort. With an ending that has proved much too painful for most audiences to tear. An ending so painful that as you may know in the 18th century named Tate changed to keep Lear
and Co Delia alive to have them conquer the on of the armies of Goneril and Regan. And have Cordelia marry Edgar at the end and everyone lives happily ever after lives only to the age of one hundred and fifty. But that doesn't happen here. And liers final play is that could Delia must die. HOW HOW HOW HOW. Oh you're a man of stone. Had I known you were tons in the years I'd use them so that Heaven's vault should crack. She's gone forever. I know when one is dead and when one lives she's dead as Earth. Lend me a looking glass if that her breath will mist or stain the stone why then she lives. He thinks the fender stirs but it doesn't. And he must accept the fact. That she is gone. Forever now. His last spark of hope in other words has killed his last concert is killed.
And with it the last justification he might have for staying alive. He does maintain a spark of pride over having killed Delia's murderer. I killed the slave that was a hang the. I've seen the day with my good biting thoughts and I would have made them skip. But even that doesn't last long enough to justify life in him. That's the only light in this dark scene. It's at this moment that Shakespeare stops that Tara and introduces a number of recognitions and that would spoil the pity of the scene. Kent has been in disguise up until this time takes off his disguise and reveals himself as the servant cases when following their throughout the play. It stops the action it interrupts it the need to tie up all the strings of the plot is a structural fault in the play I think. But Shakespeare had a very good reason for introducing that at this point which is that you need some relief from the tragedy or else you go mad. There's unbearable pain in the scene which has somehow to be stopped has to
be interrupted to give you a chance to recover from the terror. Leader makes one final appeal for justice in a world that has no justice. And my poor fool is hanged. No no no life. Why should a dog a horse a rat have life. And there are no breath at all dark no more never never never never never. Those nevers and no others or cause repeated negatives throughout the play than the message of the play. No never nothing. Why does a horse live and called Delia does not live there. Terrible question of cause has no answer except that in the universe of this play anything can live and anything can. And it is of equal importance under this blank and desperate and dismal world.
Now at the end you accept for a moment the terror of life that only the greatest tragic heroes are allowed to examine. And then they're only allowed to examine it for a moment. A life without illusion an accommodated life life without hope without expectation. Life which excepts doesn't accept but sees death as its final punctuation life which says all striving leads to this and there is no comfort and there is no solace. He has glimpsed the thing itself and accommodated life underneath all the comforts and illusions that humans employ to black out what they cannot stand to look at very long. And after a vision like this of course death comes as a relief. Death is something you embrace. Death is pleasure. It's a luxury. Because no man can look at this vision very long. In my sense Tis happiness to dies as a thought in Live sense. Tis happiness to die. And with the
death of Lear an age dies and the age of longevity and insurance all this has borne most is Albany. We had a young shall never see so much no lives so long. And after this we left for the universe that Lear has discovered. We're left with that universe but we're left with out there I was in that redeemed that universe we left without leader we're left without the attempt to come back to this universe to resist it. We're left in fact only with the great work of art but that's enough. But provide us with a great ballad landscape which for all of the doleful music tells us more about the infinite sadness of being alive than any other artwork ever created. Thank you very much. One of the. Ya been listening to the fifth in the 1968 series of six Frank L. Weil Institute lectures
delivered at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. The speaker is Dr. Robert Bruce Dean Dean of the Yale School of Drama who is general topic is the metaphysical roots of the drama. The title of this program was an accommodated man in King layer next week at this time Dr. Bernstein discusses John Ford the Jacoby and darkness. These lectures are released through the University of Cincinnati station WAGA you see this is the national educational radio network.
- Unaccommodated Man in King Lear
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- University of Cincinnati
- WGUC (Radio station : Cincinnati, Ohio)
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Producing Organization: University of Cincinnati
Producing Organization: WGUC (Radio station : Cincinnati, Ohio)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-44-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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- MLA: “Metaphysical roots of the drama; Unaccommodated Man in King Lear.” 1968-12-16. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 23, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-wp9t5x16>.
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