«CHARACTER DUPLICATION AND EMULATION IN KING LEAR: A STUDY OF KING LEAR Maria Luisa Dañobeitia Universidad de Granada. Spain The precise idea of this ...»
When looking at the phonetic signs that have been isolated we have a very similar configuration to that of Goneril/Lear and Regan/ Lear. In Regan's case the G & N materializes again, signifying the same as it did in relation to Lear: a date, the 28th of Oct., and that the elements of Cordelia that were enclosed in Regan are gone. With Cordelia we have the same pattern as that of Lear because what is not included in Regan's name is COD+l+i. This is exactly what was left when we enclosed Cordelia's name in that of Lear.
139 Robert Graves, The White Goddess (London: Faber and Faber, 1961) 184-5.
Thomas Shadwell's The Libertine (1675) There is a minor difference here because there are two phonetic signs, the "l" and the "i". The dissimilitude is not a coincidence because it can be explained in terms of death. In the case of Lear only one symbol of death was left over because he is one person and therefore one single, inclusive symbol is enough. In this situation, surely the two symbols are necessary because two are the persons who want Cordelia's death. Both symbols serve to unite Goneril and Regan in the achievement of the same deed because both are the cause of her execution.
The pattern is almost the same. The "A" has appeared again, but as a surplus of Cordelia's name thus indicating that in Lear's mind there are no differences with regard to birthrights. The point achieves full force when bearing in mind that in the next scheme, the "A" has been allotted to Regan, proving that the action leads to an overlapping of roles and situations that takes place not only in Lear's mind but in that of the characters. At the end Cordelia must fight for the crown as if she were the eldest-born in order to restore her father to the throne. The three sisters fight for the same thing, for the crown, although their reasons are not identical. As occurred with Cordelia/Regan, the "GN" has emerged. The "CD" has materialized, and only the "O" is missing for it to be able to return to the configuration of the "COD".140
140 An additional meaning of "cod" is that of deceiving, mostly used now in Ireland.It is a fitting correlative in consideration to the fact that Lear's love trial is a trap, a way of deceiving his daughters and thus a gross joke. I am indebted for this observation to Ms. M. Gleeson.
Thomas Shadwell's The Libertine (1675) In Regan's case what is left is again an "A". The meaning is obvious and indicates the final fight between the three sisters. What is left of Goneril's name is the fearful noose, that is to say, the "o" and the two symbols of the rope, the "i" and the "l".
Cordelia/Lear: Lear=0. Cordelia=Cod+i.
Regan/Lear=Regan= GN/Lear= I.
Goneril/Cordelia: Goneril=NG/ Cordelia=CD+A.
Regan/Cordelia: Regan=GN/Cordelia= Cod+l+i.
When looking at this chart it is obvious that the play's development of the plot evolves around a system of wheels within wheels. Lear, as we have stated at the beginning of this essay, is not a monolithic figure but part of a system that must include what he has created, three daughters. The scheme shows that the drama is made possible precisely due to the meaningful interrelation of characters. Owing to this interrelation one can conjecture on Lear's individuality since what he is and what he is not depends on what others reject or accept of him which, at the same time, depends on degrees of similarity with Lear rather than on differences. Goneril and Regan may have been badly treated by Lear since he is contained only in Cordelia and so they learn to hate him rather than to love him, till one day,blind rage and hatred controls them. Their love for Edmund could have become a horrifying replica of Edmund's begetting since he is the issue of Gloucester's lust, and thus Gloucester's lust becomes a source of lust for Lear's daughters. Kent is so much contained within Lear that when we see him emulating him so well, we wonder, at certain moments, if he is not repeating Lear's words. When bearing this in mind it becomes evident that the power of the play arises from a close-knit system of emulation and duplication: a system that owing to its dense pattern of interrelations awakes despair and terror in the audience.
Such feelings arise from the ultimate effect of the play, that of not knowing where to turn for a breath of air because everything blurs into a hopeless Gustav Ungerer mass of nothingness since negative similarities abound while positive