A Shakespeare Analysis Self-Quotation

“Either Shakespeare’s portrayal of Lear’s emotions is equivocated as he could not possibly feel so much at once, or Ekman’s understanding of the capacity to feel multiple things at once is wrong. In the most likely case, the latter is true. Human emotion cannot possibly be confined to only one discrete feeling at a time; various complex circumnstances call for different reactions, both mentally and corporally. Lear and his companion characters in other points in the scene discuss the potential heartbreak and mind loss they fear encountering; these examples include: “Wilt break my heart?” (Lear, 3.4.4) and the conversation between Kent and Gloucester at the end of the scene: “…His wits begin t’ unsettle” “…Thou say’st the King grows mad. I’ll tell thee, friend, I’m almost mad myself … Truth to tell thee, The grief hath crazed my wits. What a night’s this!” (Kent, Gloucester, 3.4.150-160). Not only are they embarking on the possibility of these feelings, but they are simultaneously expressing their fears of the future and the possibility of other subsequent feelings; it is a very tangled web, one such that it is ridiculous for us to assume it could be untangled so simply as to say that humans can only experience one emotion at a time.”

– DandyLion


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