«by JANE ELIZABETH KINGSLEY-SMITH A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY The ...»
In a sense Orlando is right to place his love poetry in the context of civil sayings for it will literally engender a nation. Such carvings on the trees tell Rosalind that her love for Orlando is reciprocated. They also capture the attention of Ganimede and form an introduction between Orlando and the man who proclaims a cure for love. This relationship is explicitly represented as one of pupil and master and the former often speaks little. What Ganimede tries to counter in his pupil is a conventional idealism about Rosalind and eternal love. He prepares Orlando for difficulty and disappointment and for the independence of his Rosalind expressed as multiplicity and capriciousness. Moreover, through Ganimede's counsel, the solipsism implied by Petrarchan worship is rejected for a passion which 'can live no longer by thinking' (5.2.48). From the inherent sterility of the Petrarchan form with its equation of desire and death, Orlando moves towards a more earthly and equal union. The marriage of 70 See The Tale of Gamelyn ed. by Walter W. Skeat (Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1843). 2 nd ed., 11 890-4.
71 This reference in pastoral to the 'desert unpeopled' is conventional and recurs in verse form in Lodge's A Margarite ofAmerica (pub. 1595). Here, the courtly lover, Minecius, puts on a 'pastorall habile' to woo Philenia. He carves a poem into a tree beginning, 'O desarts be you peopled by my plaints', Menaphon by Robert Greene & A Margarite ofAmerica by Thomas Lodge, 126. Where Orlando uses poetry to populate the forest, Minecius orders the native inhabitants to flee and leave him alone in his pose of despair.
Rosalind and Orlando is indeed a worldly affair. Despite his naivete and idealism, Orlando's love will considerably enhance his social position.
In Rosalynde, the banished lovers fear for the social inequality of their match. Before exile, Rosalynde reflects that she is a princess and ought at least to marry a rich man not a penniless gentleman (174-5). In the forest, Rosader describes his aspiration to possess Rosalynde with a string of metaphors that echo his father's deathbed warning against ambition:72 I, unhappie I, have let mine eye scare with the Eagle against so bright a Sunne, that I am quite blinde; [...] Ah shepheard, I have reacht at a star, my desires have mounted above my degree, & my thoughts above my fortunes. I being a peasant have ventred to gaze on a Princesse, whose honors are too high to vouchsafe such base loves. (201) Of course, Rosader is guilty of litotes here, being far from a peasant. If he were, there is no doubt what his fate would be. In Menaphon, the eponymous shepherd realises that his love
for Sephestia is impossible when her true parentage is revealed:
seeing his passions were too aspiring, and that with the Syrian wolves he barkt against the Moone. he lefte such lettice as were too fine for his lips, and courted his old love Pesana, to whom shortly after he was married. (108) When the love between nobility and shepherd classes cannot be ignored but will be resolved in marriage, the shepherd/ess invariably turns out to be the other's social equal. Nobility has been hidden by disguise or a rustic upbringing but is nevertheless perceptible all along as in 12 Sir John of Bourdeaux warns his sons: 'they which stare at the Starres, stumble uppon stones; and such as »aze at the Sunne (unlesse they bee Eagle eyed) fall blinde. Scare not with the Hobbie. least you fall with the Larke', Narrative and Dramatic Sources, vol. 2. 161-2.
the case of Pastorella and Calidore, Perdita and Florizel. 73 In As You Like It, the social barrier which exists between Rosalind and Orlando, one a princess the other merely a gentleman, has
only been crossed by exile. Leo Salingar writes:
But for the misfortune of her father's exile, they might not have met in sympathy as at first; but for the second misfortune of her own exile, as well as his, they could not have met in apparent equality in the Forest [...] As in Lodge's story, it is 'the good housewife Fortune' who unexpectedly makes their courtship and marriage possible. 74 In Lodge's story and in Shakespeare's the social impossibility of the union is subordinated to the impossibility created by the lovers' gender. 75 Once Rosalind has been revealed to be a woman, there is no impediment to her match with Orlando and the other characters pair off accordingly. There is no suggestion that a match formed with the deposed heir to a dukedom is unworthy that princess when she is reinstated. This is partly because of the transformation that occurs in Orlando. He has moved from bestiality to exile to forester to lover and now he anticipates the inheritance of a kingdom. The eloquence Orlando has learnt will be used to pronounce laws among a real society of people rather than a circle of trees. As in a number of other pastoral romances and plays, the virtuous gentleman is rewarded beyond what he could have hoped for through his pastoral exile. That period of exile has been primarily characterised by the pursuit of education. Everything has been found in the forest for his improvement. At the same time. Fortune demands that he pass a small test, namely the 73 In Menaphon, Sephestia and Melicertus are banished on account of their unequal marriage, though five years after the event. Separated by a shipwreck and believing the other to be drowned, they meet up again disguised in shepherd's clothing and fall in love. This love for a mere shepherd/ess is justified by both on the grounds of a perceived nobility in the beloved. Sephestia says of Melicertus 'his face is not inchacte with anie rusticke proportion, his browes containe the characters of nobilitie, and his lookes in shepheards weeds are Lordlie, his voyce pleasing, his wit full of gentrie...', 56-7.
"4 Shakespeare and the Traditions of Comedy, 298. Ann Jennalie Cook suggests that this 'patently impossible match', impossible on account of its social inequality, unrestricted courtship and easy paternal acquiescence, is 'perhaps the high point of fanciful invention in the comedy', Making a Match, 59-60.
75 Of course, not even this was necessarily insurmountable in contemporary drama as evidenced by Lyly's Gallathcti (1585) or The Maid's Metamorphosis.
renunciation of her blessings for virtue's sake. When Orlando discovers his brother lying under a tree in danger from a lion and a snake, he delays in rescuing him from motives of revenge. There is also the consideration, again made explicit in Lodge, that Orlando has an opportunity to achieve his ambitions through his brother's death. That he does not take it, results in reconciliation between the brothers and Oliver's offering to Orlando what the latter might have stolen from him. With Duke Senior's reinstatement, however, Orlando will inherit not merely an estate but a dukedom.
The other exiles undergo varying degrees of transformation. Duke Senior may have learned something from his experience. Oliver has achieved a spiritual epiphany consolidated by the experience of falling in love and the social acceptance marriage signifies. Even Duke Frederick has entered the seclusion of the forest and found himself completely transformed.
Exile is the precondition to metamorphosis in this play. Nevertheless, the social identity of characters is prized above all others. In the context of the Senecan/Ciceronian debate on philosophical leisure or public service, the play comes out on the side of Cicero. The exiles must return to society. They must merge some sense of inner self with socially-constructed roles. Rosalind's experience of exile is profoundly fulfilling because she recreates herself as Ganimede. This character offers her the authority of a man and landowner, with the liberty and the wonderful potentiality of the foundling. Where Rosalind plays at being an outcast, exile is an opportunity for Orlando to commit himself to society. His transformation in the
forest is a process which replicates the stages he should have passed through in society:
recognition of his birth, education, patronage, marriage and inheritance. Ultimately, exile is not the end of one's civic identity but the site of its rebirth. It is an opportunity to become more worthy of society and only secondarily to transform that society itself.
Banishment in King Lear is excessive. Nearly all the main characters are expelled from society: Cordelia, Kent, Edgar, Lear, the Fool, Gloucester. This tally of exiles is exceeded by As You Like It in which even Duke Frederick is finally drawn into the forest and yet the sense of alienation in King Lear is more profound. The tragedy is constructed upon successive images and acts of schism - the division of the kingdom, the separation of Lear from his kingship and his daughters, the 'division' hinted at between Albany and Cornwall, the sundering of Gloucester and Edgar. The self-consciousness of exile in the play is reinforced by Edgar's deliberate assumption of the identity of Poor Tom. an archetypal outcast. Indeed, Leo Salingar has referred to King Lear as 'largely a fable about alienation1.2 This statement suggests the recurrence of banishment at a literal, figurative and allegorical level.3 In As You Like It also, the repetition of banishment creates a pattern which seems to be imposed upon the characters rather than to be convincingly generated within the fiction. Perhaps because the author of division seems to be working within pastoral conventions, thus promising reunion and regeneration, this pattern is less disturbing. But King Lear invokes this pastoral movement only to reject its consolations. Hence, the tragic excess of banishment in the play appears dangerously outside human control. More than in As You Like It, there may seem to 1 I will be using the Quarto text of the play as included in the Oxford Complete Works. This text is more suitable to my argument in that it offers lengthier descriptive passages, for example the account of Lear's condition on the heath, Albany's condemnation of Gonoril and Cordelia's reaction to the letter. The trial scene and the extended philosophising of Edgar in the Quarto are also reasons for using this text. In doing so, I am assuming that the Folio is a Shakespearean revision of the Quarto text and that the Quarto was performed before these revisions were made. On this question see Stanley Wells 'The Once and Future King Lear', 1-22, 11, and Gary Taylor 'King Lear: The Date and Authorship of the Folio Version', 351-468 in The Division of the Kingdoms ed. by Gary Taylor and Michael Warren (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983).
2 Leo Salingar, "King Lear, Montaigne and Harsnett', Aligarh Journal of English Studies 8 (1983), 124-66, 125.
3 On the allegorical structure of the play see John F. Danby, Shakespeare's Doctrine of Nature: A Study of King Lear (London: Faber and Faber, 1949), especially p. 52, and Maynard Mack who emphasises the play's debt to folk tale motifs, the morality play and pastoral romance, King Lear in Our Time (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd..
alienating force at work. Nicholas Grene writes:
An irresistible movement is on towards the expulsion of the good, a movement so apparently arbitrary and convulsive as to suggest something beyond the observable concatenation of human characters and event [...] a pattern which we experience as mysterious and inscrutable, though much of the play is devoted to anguished efforts to understand it.4 In this chapter I will consider the excesses of banishment that might lead one to the perception of an abstract alienating force in King Lear whilst exploring the human and political motivations behind it. Banishment will be shown as a cruel disjointing and as a playful refashioning of men.
We might posit the origins of Grene's 'irresistible movement' in Act 1 scene 1 of King Lear. 5 The play opens with the division of the kingdom and Lear's renunciation of kingly sway. It is a division planned, where the banishments of Cordelia and Kent are not. The question of how the Jacobean audience would have regarded Lear's action, particularly when the play offers so little guidance as to its interpretation, is central to our perception of the succeeding acts of banishment.
In English chronicle history, the line of kings to which Lear belongs, beginning with Brutus and ending with Gorboduc, was remarkable for dividing Britain and it is partly through the retelling of these legends that King Lear was created. On 18 January 1562, the law students, Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville, appealed to the Queen and her parliament to settle the question of the succession. Their play, Gorboduc, insisted on the necessity of one ruler in a 4 Nicholas Grene, Shakespeare's Tragic Imagination (Basingstoke and London: Macmillan, 1992), 162. Leah Scragg describes the acts of banishment in both As You Like It and King Lear as amounting to 'a universal phenomenon' in Shakespeare's Mouldy Tales, 141.
5 Jonas A. Barish and Marshall Waingrow ascribe to this first act of division the power to usher in 'an epoch marked by splitting, cracking, and parting of every sort' in 'Service in King Lear\ Sh. Q. 9 (1958), 347-55, 353.
kingdom and of Parliament's approval in creating an heir. Civil war ensued when the
succession was left uncertain. The Chorus begins:
Gorboduc decides to abdicate and to split the kingdom between his two sons, To be above them only in the name/ Of father, not in kingly state also' as Philander puts it (1.2.158-9). The result is fratricide, filicide, regicide and rebellion. Before his decision, Gorboduc had been offered different advice by three counsellors. Only the last, Eubulus, opposed the plan
entirely. He referred back to the first division of Britain under Brutus:
In Gorboduc, the division of the kingdom releases divisiveness into government which results in political and national chaos. As above, the image of sundering takes on bloody overtones. When King Lear was written such anti-division rhetoric was particularly topical, appropriated by James I in his plans for the reunification of England and Scotland. The King's supporters depicted him as the fulfilment of prophecy, the second Brutus, come to 6 Gorboduc or Ferrex and Porrex ed. by Irby B. Cauthen (London: Edward Arnold, 1970).