By S. L. Goldberg

Professor Goldberg deals a studying of King Lear that avoids the pitfall possible choices of idealism, moralism, absurdism, and redemptionist sentimentality. He sees the play as a problem to our conscience and our want for a sense of normal justice, yet as undercutting all effortless solutions. That it doesn't enable them is considered one of its details. The essay strains a constructing reaction to the total of the motion because it proceeds, making no untimely judgments. It springs from a thought of feel of what a poetic drama is and the way it really works: specifically the way it offers 'character' and the way the perspectives of the characters relate to the full purpose of the play and the author's personal imaginative and prescient of existence. Many readers are inclined to imagine this the main passable try out they've got but learn to do justice to this nice play; simply because Professor Goldberg responds to it with intelligence and sensitivity, simply because he doesn't impose a ready-made which means on it, and since he has thought of Shakespearean drama in a manner which makes this short ebook a different level within the historical past of feedback on the grounds that Bradley and Wilson Knight.

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IV One reason why the next meeting of these particular 'hard hearts5 - the reconciliation scene at the end of Act I v - is so moving is that each does simply yield, not only to the other but also to itself, both of them at last releasing what has been visible to us all along. The reversals from the opening obviously comment on both scenes. A little before they meet we have already seen Cordelia evoking a very different sense of nature - sustaining corn, idle weeds, blessed secrets, all the 'unpublished virtues of theearth'-its healing powers clearly the external correlative of her own power to weep (iv, iv).

Knights5s account of King Lear too. Like Sewell, though much more firmly and usefully, Knights has propounded a view of Shakespearean 'character5 that is a decided advance on Bradley5s. 'Character5, he has insisted, is essentially the embodiment of a 'spiritual and psychological state with which the given experience is confronted5, or more accurately, the embodiment of a'possibility of living5, away of encountering the universe; and it is at once expressed and criticized both in the poetry given to the character to speak and in the dramatic interplay of such 'possibilities5 with each other.

But because this kind of unease with Bradleyan character-study was never conclusively defined, it became confused with other things - ascribing to Shakespeare some brand or other of 'traditional* belief, for instance; or the theoretical status of'character3 as against 'plot' or dramatic conventions or 'direct poetic-symbolism5; or the supposed gap between the 'metaphysical' and the merely 'moral5 in Shakespeare. This is probably why we find all too many critics, ostentatiously freeing us from the shackles of Bradleyism by insisting on the decisive dramatic importance of'traditions' or 'conventions' or 'direct poeticsymbolism', in actual practice treating 'character', in so far as they do treat it, in very much the same terms as Bradley himself or in terms even more rigidly moralistic.

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