Edmund is apparently a good deal younger than Iago. Lear, we see, is also choleric by temperament—the first of Shakespeare's heroes who is so. But these are not enough for him. Hence from the beginning to the end of these scenes we have, mingled with pain and awe and a sense of man's infirmity, an equally strong feeling of his greatness; and this becomes at times even an exulting sense of the powerlessness of outward calamity or the malice of others against his soul. At the very beginning, it is true, we are inclined to feel merely pity and misgivings. He is quite aware of his superiority to them in certain respects; and he either disbelieves in or despises the qualities in which they are superior to him.
His sufferings too have been so cruel, and our indignation against those who inflicted them has been so intense, that recollection of the wrong he did to Cordelia, to Kent, and to his realm, has been well-nigh effaced. But when an attempt is made to fill in the detail, it issues sooner or later in confusion even with readers whose dramatic memory is unusually strong. This action sets all his powers on the strain. But one thing in her he does not know—that she loves her mistress and would face a hundred deaths sooner than see her fair fame darkened. But the Fool is one of Shakespeare's triumphs in King Lear. Should we not be at least as near the truth if we called this poem The Redemption of King Lear, and declared that the business of 'the gods' with him was neither to torment him, nor to teach him a 'noble anger,' but to lead him to attain through apparently hopeless failure the very end and aim of life? He feels the delight of one who executes successfully a feat thoroughly congenial to his special aptitude, and only just within his compass; and, as he is fearless by nature, the fact that a single slip will cost him his life only increases his pleasure.
But as his cruelties are not aimed at a blood-relation, he is not, in this sense, a 'monster,' like the remaining three. But Much That Is Said On The Main Preliminary Subjects Holds Good, Within Certain Limits, Of Other Dramas Of Shakespeare. Surely not from want of ability to display them. Though an excellent actor, he prefers force to fraud, and in his world there is no general illusion as to his true nature. Yet twice we are able to feel sympathy with him. But then the best authority, it seems to me, is either influenced unconsciously by disgust at Tate's sentimentalism or unconsciously takes that wider point of view. The critic, in other words, must extract content from form—and making content and form inseparable is one of the goals of art.
The sources of danger in this character are revealed but too clearly by the story. Of Course, It Will Apply To These Other Works Only In Part, And To Some Of Them More Fully Than To Others. Tremble, thou wretch, That hast within thee undivulged crimes. Iago, we gather, was a Venetian soldier, eight-and-twenty years of age, who had seen a good deal of service and had a high reputation for courage. I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloster: Thou must be patient; we came crying hither: Thou know'st, the first time that we smell the air, We wawl and cry. And what resemblance is there between these passions and any feeling that we can trace in Iago? But his prayer is not for himself.
Shakespearian Tragedy is one of the most important works of Shakespeare criticism; influenced by Swinburne, Dowden and Moulton, this is a work that later critics all had to deal with, whether agreeing with Bradley or polemicizing against his views. And he comes to have his life crowned with the final glory of love, a love as strange, adventurous and romantic as any passage of his eventful history, filling his heart with tenderness and his imagination with ecstasy. But, to set against Regan's inferiority in power, there is nothing: she is superior only in a venomous meanness which is almost as hateful as her cruelty. What is the meaning of all this? The fact that Socrates was executed does not remove the fact that he lived, and the inference thence to be drawn about the world that produced him. Ever since I first read those plays, I have been beating my head against them in the attempt to make sense of these bottomless personages. Which of these three is the least and which the most detestable there can surely be no question.
The question is not so easily answered as might appear. Even after we have witnessed his dreadful deeds, a touch of this sympathy is felt again when we hear his nonchalant reflections before the battle: To both these sisters have I sworn my love: Each jealous of the other, as the stung Are of the adder. These scenes, as we observed, suggest the idea of a convulsion in which Nature herself joins with the forces of evil in man to overpower the weak; and they are thus one of the main sources of the more terrible impressions produced by King Lear. In such a night To shut me out! And if I am told that he has suffered too much for this, how can I possibly believe it with these words ringing in my ears: Come, let's away to prison: We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage. You houseless poverty— Nay, get thee in.
Her image comes before us calm and bright and still. The sight only adds to the confusion of intellect the madness of rage; and a ravenous thirst for revenge, contending with motions of infinite longing and regret, conquers them. He too ends a better and wiser man than he began. Sign up for ShippingPass so you can shop more, save money and live better. Whatever he may once have been, he appears, when we meet him, to be almost destitute of humanity, of sympathetic or social feeling. He tells Lear that he is eight and forty, but it is clear that he is much older; not so old as his master, who was 'four-score and upward' and whom he 'loved as his father,' but, one may suppose, three-score and upward.
There is something pathetic here which tempts one to dream that, if Edmund had been whole brother to Edgar, and had been at home during those 'nine years' when he was 'out,' he might have been a very different man. Up to this point, it appears to me, there is not a syllable to be said against Othello. He has actually forgotten the incident of the handkerchief, and has to be reminded of it. Surely, it says, the tragic emotions have been sufficiently stirred already. He is frequently addressed as 'boy.
As I have already remarked in speaking of Desdemona, it was a demand which other heroines of Shakespeare could have met. A little later he exclaims, 'This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen'; and almost from that point he leaves the King to Edgar, speaking only once again in the remaining hundred lines of the scene. Within certain limits he has indeed extraordinary penetration, quickness, inventiveness, adaptiveness; but the limits are defined with the hardest of lines, and they are narrow limits. In spite of his egoism, too, he appears to us more than a mere individual: he is the representative of his family, the Fury of the House of York. It has certain strictly dramatic advantages, and may well have had its origin in purely dramatic considerations. Those guys would stop by my dorm room anytime, day or night, just to share my Entemann's Cookies and hang out. Here Iago is a being who hates good simply because it is good, and loves evil purely for itself.