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Poor TomLiving "King Lear"$
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Simon Palfrey

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226150642

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226150789.001.0001

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Scene 1 Into the Hollow

Scene 1 Into the Hollow

(p.26) 4 Scene 1 Into the Hollow
Poor Tom

Simon Palfrey

University of Chicago Press

This section looks at Edgar’s first two scenes, first when he is tricked by his brother Edmond, then when he goes into internal exile disguised as a mad beggar. It considers the implications of Edgar’s self-mortification. The principle of the role is an emptiness open to experimenting abuse—an emptiness that can take on many other forms, or can be open to all kinds of constructions, but which will not finally be filled. The “happy hollow” in which Edgar reports himself hiding encapsulates this mutating, nascent potential, at once inside and outside time and society. The section goes on to consider Edgar in relation to certain salient archetypes or models: Agamben’s “state of exception”; Scarry’s phenomenology of torture; Christ; artistic pseudomorphosis, or fraudulent imitation. All these things are suggestive, but none can quite claim his radical existential susceptibility.

Keywords:   nothingness, Edmund, potential, torture, self-figurations, exile, Christ-figures, mortification, Elaine Scarry, Giorgio Agamben

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