Professor Eskew's article, "'Soldiers, Prisoners, Patrimony": King Lear
and the Place of the Sovereign," appears in the Cahiers Élisabéthains
78 (2010). The article argues that the early modern political, material, and jurisdictional phenomenon known as the
“verge” may be helpful in interpreting King Lear
. During Shakespeare’s lifetime, this 12-mile compass surrounding the person of the king became a contested site in the battle over sovereign authority. In the play, he verge stands as the object of desire motivating the characters of Lear and Edmund. Lear wishes to regain the verge so that he might put his daughters on trial. Edmund wishes to gain retributive justice in going from “base” bastard to the “top” of the monarchy. This doubling of the king and the bastard is displayed in the play’s chiastic language and stage movements. With a significant exception, Lear and Edmund do not occupy the stage at the same time, but their paths cross once at the play’s beginning and once at its end — times when Lear alternatively loses the verge and then, briefly, regains it.
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