Table of ContentsPrevious PageNext Page

Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 445

bear in mind that results arrived at by applying these tests to the whole play can have little value, since it is practically certain that Shakespeare did not write the whole play. It seems to consist (1) of parts that are purely Shakespearean (the text, however, being here, as elsewhere, very corrupt); (2) of parts untouched or very slightly touched by him; (3) of parts where a good deal is Shakespeare's but not all (e.g., in my opinion, III. v., which I cannot believe, with Mr. Fleay, to be wholly, or almost wholly, by another writer). The tests ought to be applied not only to the whole play but separately to (1), about which there is little difference of opinion. This has not been done: but Dr. Ingram has applied one test, and I have applied another, to the parts assigned by Mr. Fleay to Shakespeare (see Note BB.).1 The result is to place Timon between King Lear and Macbeth (a result which happens to coincide with that of the application of the main tests to the whole play): and this result corresponds, I believe, with the general impression which we derive from the three dramas in regard to versification.




     I have remarked in the text (pp. 256 ff.) on the unusual number of improbabilities, inconsistencies, etc., in King Lear. The list of examples given might easily be lengthened. Thus (a) in IV. iii. Kent refers to a letter which he confided to the Gentleman for Cordelia; but in III. i. he had given to the Gentleman not a letter but a message. (b) In III. i. again he says Cordelia will inform the Gentleman who the sender of the message was; but from IV. iii. it is evident that she has done no such thing, nor does the Gentleman show any curiosity on the subject. (c) In the same scene (III. i.) Kent and the Gentleman arrange that whichever finds the King first shall halloo to the other; but when Kent finds the King he does

   1These are I. i.; II. i.; II. ii, except 194-204; in III. vi, Timon's verse speech; IV. i.; IV. ii. 1-28; IV. iii., except 292-362, 399-413, 454-543; V. i., except l-50; V. ii.; V. iv. I am not to be taken as accepting this division throughout.

Table of ContentsPrevious PageNext Page