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Thinking Through Place on the Early Modern English Stage$
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Andrew Bozio

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198846567

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198846567.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 January 2022

The Perception of Place in King Lear

The Perception of Place in King Lear

(p.98) 3 The Perception of Place in King Lear
Thinking Through Place on the Early Modern English Stage

Andrew Bozio

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces the relationship between perception and place in King Lear. Through a reading of Gloucester’s claim to “see” the world “feelingly,” it first argues that Shakespeare’s play both theorizes and enacts a phenomenology of place in the approach to Dover cliff. There, Edgar’s efforts to deceive his father as to the nature of his surroundings work not only reveal the role of perception within the phenomenology of place; they also disrupt that phenomenology, as Edgar’s suggestion that his father’s senses betray him leaves Gloucester with no way of orientating himself within the world. Similarly, Lear’s encounter with the storm shows that the inability to feel one’s surroundings can effect a kind of displacement, leading to a profound disorientation in madness. As such, the chapter furthers the book’s inquiry into the nature of ecological thinking by shifting the emphasis to moments in which such thinking fails, as characters struggle to orient themselves within increasingly imperceptible locations.

Keywords:   William Shakespeare, King Lear, phenomenology of place, Gloucester, Lear, Montaigne, La Boétie, displacement

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