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April 12, 2007

When did Cornwall Die?

Shakespeare, King Lear Acts 3-5 -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

Oh, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead,
Slain by his servent, going to put out
The other eye of Gloucester (183).

Ok, I am confused now. I don't remember him dying. I know he got hurt, but I didn't know he died. Is the messenger misinformed? Or did I miss something after Cornwall and Regan exited during that last scene of Act 3? And also, why would Goneril be somewhat happy about Cornwall's death? She says it is partially good news, but she feels bad that her sister is now a widow. Does she plan on trying to take the whole kingdom for herself? If I did miss something could someone point me to a passage that indicates Cornwall's death prior to this scene? I would greatly appreciate it! If I didn't miss anything, maybe I just need to keep reading.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at April 12, 2007 10:53 AM


At the end of Act III:

Corn. I have receiv'd a hurt. Follow me, lady.
Turn out that eyeless villain. Throw this slave
Upon the dunghill. Regan, I bleed apace.
Untimely comes this hurt. Give me your arm.

While "I have receiv'd a hurt" is a bit understated, he mentions his bleeding (something people in the back row might not have noticed... especially if they didn't use fake blood on stage), and he first tries to exit on his own -- perhaps to prove to the onlookers that he's not seriously hurt -- but he can't make it offstage without Regan's help. All together, that hints that he's in trouble.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 12, 2007 11:10 AM

Yeah I did pick up that he was hurt, but it does frustrate me that it was never made explicit until the messenger comes to tell Goneril and the others. For some reason I really didn't like this play as much as I usually like Shakespeare. I might change my mind after we discuss it more in class (because usually that happens when I don't enjoy a work) but, in general I just don't think this play was put together as well as his plays normally are. The characters just seem to drop dead randomly. Cordelia and King Lear were to be assassinated, but when someone was sent to the prison to save them, somehow I guess Cordelia was already assassinated because King Lear comes out holding her dead corps. Except how did he get out of prison? And, if Cordelia was indeed already assassinated, how did Lear avoid the same fate? And then he just drops dead while lamenting his dead daughter. I don't know, maybe I was just in a bad mood when I read it or something, but overall the play just didn't do what Shakespeare normally does for me.

Posted by: Lorin at April 13, 2007 8:28 AM

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