A comfortable sense of truth also inheres in speaking what we feel, while what we ought to say implies an uncomfortable sense of something false or at least something contrived. In either case we must speak or remain silent. If we choose to speak, then in either case we must voluntarily process thoughts in order to choose precise words and phrases to describe our feelings or to say what we ought to say.
What we ought to say can include reasoned opinions, factual recollections, inoffensive dinner comments, diplomatic resolutions, and promising problem solutions, among many other non-feeling oriented possibilities. However, what we ought to say may just as well include both accurate and inaccurate — or less than true — expressions of our feelings. For example, in the case of brokering compromises, parties generally make little progress if no one moves away from speech that accurately expresses their initial feelings.
If we assume Lear truly loved at least Cordelia prior to this query, then from his opening lines, Lear spoke neither what he felt nor what he ought to have said, else these lines began his madness. We get the sense that Goneril and Regan spoke in character, and that Cordelia truly loved her father more than her sisters loved him. Yet, her sisters expressed their love in terms so out of proportion to their actual love, that to eclipse their flattery, Cordelia would necessarily have had to lie.
So, Cordelia, true to herself, stayed in character. Lear mistook for pride the almost unfeeling accuracy with which Cordelia tried to convey her love. At least we get a sense that Cordelia, in addition to speaking what she ought to say, also spoke what she felt, as best and as truly as she could. Lear created his tragic circumstances. His own error brought about his downfall. The public setting for his love-query apparently afforded no one the opportunity to admit mistakes or to diplomatically call into question the whole affair. She would have cared for her father lovingly for the rest of his days.
Of course, such speech and actions leave us without a tragedy. However, at most it serves as only a partial, penultimate, almost too obvious, unsatisfying, and maudlin lesson. Can we contemplate a more significant lesson?
I copy Furness's note on 'Decline': Edmund is a good deal taller than Goneril, and must stoop to be kissed. Proper deformity seems not in the fiend So horrid as in woman. Thou changed and self-cover'd thing, for shame, Be-monster not thy feature. Were't my fitness To let these hands obey my blood, They are apt enough to dislocate and tear Thy flesh and bones: The passage has been much discussed, mainly because of the strange expression 'self-cover'd,' for which of course emendations have been proposed. The general meaning is clear. Albany tells his wife that she is a devil in a woman's shape, and warns her not to cast off that shape by be-monstering her feature appearance , since it is this shape alone that protects her from his wrath.
Almost all commentators go astray because they imagine that, in the words 'thou changed and self-cover'd thing,' Albany is speaking to Goneril as a woman who has been changed into a fiend. Really he is addressing her as a fiend which has changed its own shape and assumed that of a woman; and I suggest that 'self-cover'd' means either 'which hast covered or concealed thyself,' or 'whose self is covered' [so Craig in Arden edition], not what of course it ought to mean 'which hast been covered by thyself.
To let these hands obey my blood, they're apt enough To dislocate and tear thy flesh and bones: Howe'er thou art a fiend, a woman's shape Doth shield thee.
Shall never see so much, nor live so long. EDGAR. We must remember the gravity of this sad day. We should speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. U.S. Marine Lieutenant Tom Flanagan is serving as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. Meanwhile, on the other side of the.
Marry, your manhood now-- Alb. The stage-directions at V.
Edmund and Albany speak very stiffly to one another, and Goneril bids them defer their private quarrels and attend to business. Then follows this passage according to the modern texts: Let's then determine With the ancient of war on our proceedings. I shall attend you presently at your tent.
Sister, you'll go with us? If e'er your grace had speech with man so poor, Hear me one word. It would appear from this that all the leading persons are to go to a Council of War with the ancient plural in Albany's tent; and they are going out, followed by their armies, when Edgar comes in.
Why in the world, then, should Goneril propose as she apparently does to absent herself from the Council; and why, still more, should Regan object to her doing so? This is a question which always perplexed me, and I could not believe in the only answers I ever found suggested, viz. He points out that the modern stage-directions are wrong.
For the modern direction 'As they are going out, enter Edgar disguised,' the Ff. Albany proposes a Council of War. Edmund assents, and says he will come at once to Albany's tent for that purpose. The Council will consist of Albany, Edmund, and the ancient of war.
Regan, accordingly, is going away with her soldiers; but she observes that Goneril shows no sign of moving with her soldiers; and she at once suspects that Goneril means to attend the Council in order to be with Edmund. Full of jealousy, she invites Goneril to go with her. Goneril refuses, but then, seeing Regan's motive, contemptuously and ironically consents I doubt if 'O ho, I know the riddle' should be 'aside,' as in modern editions, following Capell.
Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here IV, vii, 75 Ripeness is all. The tragedy has not been chiefly theirs:. The passage has been much discussed, mainly because of the strange expression 'self-cover'd,' for which of course emendations have been proposed. Shall never see so much, nor live so long. The waistband of her skirt was too high, obscuring the small of her back.
Accordingly the two sisters go out, followed by their soldiers; and Edmund and Albany are just going out, in a different direction, to Albany's tent when Edgar enters. His words cause Albany to stay; Albany says to Edmund, as Edmund leaves, 'I'll overtake you'; and then, turning to Edgar, bids him 'speak. When Edmund falls in combat with the disguised Edgar, Albany produces the letter from Goneril to Edmund, which Edgar had found in Oswald's pocket and had handed over to Albany. This letter suggested to Edmund the murder of Albany.
The passage in the Globe edition is as follows: This is practice, Gloucester: By the law of arms thou wast not bound to answer An unknown opposite: Shut your mouth, dame, Or with this paper shall I stop it: Hold, sir; Thou worse than any name, read thy own evil: No tearing, lady; I perceive you know it. Say, if I do, the laws are mine, not thine: Who can arraign me for't? Know'st thou this paper? Ask me not what I know. What you have charged me with, that have I done; And more, much more; the time will bring it out.
But what art thou That hast this fortune on me? The first of the stage-directions is not in the Qq. The second 'Exit' is both in the Qq. I will not go into the various views of these lines, but will simply say what seems to me most probable. It does not matter much where precisely Goneril's 'exit' comes; but I believe the Folios are right in giving the words 'Ask me not what I know' to Edmund. It has been pointed out by Knight that the question 'Know'st thou this paper? When Albany is undoubtedly speaking to his wife, he uses the plural pronoun, 'Shut your mouth, dame,' 'No tearing, lady; I perceive you know it.