Archivist Toolkit and the final stages

Remarkably, this entry will be one of the final posts I write for this summer's CCEPS fellowship. 

This week I worked on something completely new, signifying the final stages of processing the collection. Once I completed the foldering process, the next step was to transfer all of the info into Archivist Toolkit. Once this was done, I then had to arrange and review everything to make sure the collection was on its way to becoming ready and available for research!
This entailed many steps, some of which I am still working on currently. I had to re-arrange some of the folders and move them into different boxes, based on space availability and making sure none of the folders would either move around too much because of too much room, or become folded and potentially compromised because the box was stuffed too tight. As it turned out, there was more room in most boxes than I had foresaw initially, and therefore had to place some more folders in each, causing a re-arrangement of sorts for the folder numbers of several folders. Thankfully, I was told not to write the actual box and folder number on the folder themselves until the very end of this process. Therefore, while I had to fix a lot of the information on Archivist Toolkit, at least I then completed the folders' titles with the appropriate information - saving a lot of hassle, erasing, and extra labor!

Now, I am working on the collection's finding aid and Front Matter. It has been very interesting to learn as I go the proper ways in which to describe the various aspects of a collection and provide valuable details for future researchers. There is a template, thankfully, to use as a guide but I've had to read some of the guidelines and learn about the overall format prior to simply adding in the necessary information. This has truly provided a great learning experience in addition to the welcoming task of completing the processing of an archival collection on my own. It has also been neat to research a little further on Professor Miller's career and notice some names of relatives, colleagues, and his published materials that I had come across multiple times while arranging the collection. 
It will be extremely exciting to write the post next week, as I should be finishing up the work and therefore able to relay all of the information and lessons I learned while processing the collection, especially creating the finding aid, which will hopefully "tie it all together." 
Stay tuned!

The Bearded Lady

This week, while browsing the Denison collection, my fellow researchers and I found some cross-dressing images. I'll save those for later, but on a similar note, we also saw some images from Macbeth in the Honnold/Mudd library. Why is it similar, you ask? Because Shakespeare's witches are not exclusively female. 

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(For your viewing pleasure--a drawing of a staging of Macbeth)

The witches in the Scottish play, interestingly, are never singled out as such by the characters, referred only to as the Weird Sisters. But, we may recognize them as such (if we were simply watching the play instead of reading the attributed lines) by their appearance given the social context surrounding witchcraft during the Renaissance. When the sisters first appear to Macbeth and Banquo, the latter cannot place their gender. He describes them as wild, withered, and with thin lips. Banquo even uses female pronouns, but pronounces that they "should be women,/ and yet your beards forbid me to interpret/ that you are so" (1.3.43-44). Essentially, the sisters are old bearded ladies. 

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(Image found in the Norman Philbrick Art Collection of the Honnold/Mudd Special Collections)

Some of you may be wondering why bearded old women equals witch. Well, there are a few factors at play, one of which being that the majority of persecuted witches in Early Modern England were old ladies living on their own. Supposedly, these witches cursed their neighbors with things like bad crops or domestic troubles. Typically, the English witches were widows, meaning that they had more monetary power than their younger and married counterparts. Back then, one of the only ways women could own property or have control over their money was if they were a widow. If their husband had owned property while alive, the wife would inherit the estate after his death if there were no other heirs. So, unmarried widows without a family had the potential for social deviancy--they didn't need to rely on a man to support themselves. 

What does this have to do with Macbeth? The weird sisters fit the above description of solo old woman with power of her own. Instead of having economic independence, Shakespeare's witches have magical prowess and the power of prophecy. Also, we may see the Goddess Hecate's appearance in the play as paralleling the connection between witches and the Devil. 

But let's get back to the beards. My interpretation is that the facial hair is a way to mark the gender deviance of the witches and to point to a masculine element in their character. The magic and independence points to a stereotypically masculine presentation and authority, resulting in the shifting of the witches' gender expectations. It may follow that the internal shift may manifest externally, in this case, through the presence of beards. As a result, the weird sisters are both male and female, matching the transgressive image of the Early Modern English witch.

Shakes-Pierre

I wasn't always the Shakespeare-reading fiend I am now; my introduction to his plays was slow, and I didn't really enjoy it until I took a class where we read a new play every two weeks. His language is old and complicated, and it felt like it required so much hard work to get something out of it that it didn't feel worth it to read Shakespeare. So much of Shakespeare comes from wordplay and old idioms that are incomprehensible to the modern reader. Trying to read it in modern English can feel a bit like translation for a number of reasons. So how does one go about approximating Shakespeare in translation between languages? French, my studied language of choice, has not changed nearly as much as English has in the last 450 years, and the language structure is different enough to significantly change meter and rhyme schemes. 

I looked at a copy of Hamlet translated into French in Special Collections, specifically at the scene (III.ii) in which Hamlet lays his head in Ophelia's lap just before the play and makes a LOT of lewd puns. How well do puns and double meanings carry over? How would a translator even begin to do that job? Here is one part of that scene (just after he asks if he can put his head in her lap), in the original English and French:

HAMLET: Do you think I meant country matters?
OPHELIA: I think nothing, my lord.
HAMLET: That's a fair thought to lie between maid's legs.
OPHELIA: What is, my lord?
HAMLET: Nothing. 

Hamlet is referring to oral sex, being highly inappropriate but not talking about sex on the primary level of meaning. Everyone present would likely have known exactly what he was getting at, but he never explicitly says it. It adds to the discomfort of the scene, and shows even more how much Hamlet has slipped out of his mother's control. 

Now in French (although please, remember: my French is imperfect!):
HAMLET: Pensez-vous donc que je voulusse,            Do you thus think that I want, 
comme les paysans grossiers, indécemment              Like coarse peasants, to sit
m'asseoir sur vos genoux?                                          indecently in your lap?
OPHÉLIA: Je ne pense rien, monseigneur.                 I don't think anything, my lord.
HAMLET: C'est une riante image... (1)                        That is a laughable image...
OPHÉLIA: Quelle image, monseigneur?                     What image, my lord?
HAMLET: Rien.                                                            Nothing.

The crudeness of "That's a fair thought to lie between maid's legs" is impossible to express without being too obvious. The French text simply provides the English for that line. Each line seems wordier, making this scene a bit clunkier than it was before. I am always impressed by translators, and I think it's important that people from all countries be able to enjoy any work of literature they want, but is it still the same Shakespeare in another language?

The thing is, as unfortunate as it is that French can't really approximate some of these great lines nor the Elizabethan language style, there' a good chance that these great lines aren't quite right in English either. There is no such thing as a Shakespeare manuscript; the earliest copies of the plays, Quartos and Folios, often differ so much from each other that they are almost different plays. We are guessing at what the original Shakespeare is. So while the French is missing something central, chances are that I am also missing something big in the original language.

Next step has arrived

I have (finally) finished the foldering process! 
All of the folder titles have been created and arranged in the appropriate boxes and series order. It was a long and thorough process, but it was essential. And now that it's complete, it will make the remaining tasks that much easier.
-- Well, it isn't totally complete, because I still have to enter box and folder numbers on each folder. But at least they are all in proper order now! I didn't really think I could escape the process that easily, did I? --
But, particularly the excel spreadsheet that I created at the beginning of the summer, and have been consistently updating while creating and re-arranging folder titles, proved invaluable when it came to the next step in the archival process - entering all of the necessary information into Archivist Toolkit. With the help of Lisa's "Excel savvy" we were able to transfer a lot of the information from the excel document into Archivist Toolkit, using appropriate formulas and codes (that I know next to nothing about!)
Here is a screen shot of some examples:
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Now, the Series, subseries, and folder titles are in Archivist Toolkit and I must enter the date ranges for each folder and make sure everything - all of the information for the entire collection - is correct and arranged accordingly. This includes adding descriptive notes for many folders, series/subseries, and even the collection as a whole. More on this next week...

It is exciting to begin the next step and inch closer towards the "finish line" of processing the collection. It has been pretty neat to be able to see a lot of the work I have done over the past several weeks on screen, entered into Archivist Toolkit, and becoming more and more refined until it will eventually be ready to go and accessible for researchers. Knowing the research process and what searching through archives entails, I am happy knowing that my work this summer could potentially help someone researching in the future. I look forward to the remaining tasks I have left, including creating the finding aid and writing the Front Matter, which will aid researchers interested in Prof. Miller's work even more. 
I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone (did I say this work has been repetitive?!). It has been a really great experience in a number of ways, and although I only have a few weeks left, I am excited about what lies ahead, both in terms of finishing the work for this collection as well as incorporating the CCEPS experience in (hopefully near) future endeavors. 


Lear Woodcuts at Denison

I'm back with more material from Denison Special Collections today.Along with the extra-illustrated Shakespeare works, one of my favorite items was this series of woodcuts from Claire van Vliet. They're in a 1986 printing, The Tragedie of King Lear, that replicates the spelling, punctuation, lineation, and italics from the First Folio of 1623. There were too many good cuts for me to post, so I've included some of my favorites below (click to enlarge the images).

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Here we see the height of the storm in Act 3, followed by a cowering, mad King Lear:


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I find this cut especially interesting because of Lear's animalistic features--they seem to mimic the Fool's lines, "[Wise men] know not how their wits to wear, their manners are so apish." The portrayal of Lear as being animalistic recently got attention from Michael Clody, who brings up numerous instances where the King himself evokes animal features. They ultimately form a sort of primal cry at the point of Cordelia's death, as Lear shouts "Howl, Howl, Howl, Howl!" The scene is portrayed below, in van Vliet's most dramatic image:

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Clody writes that this scene fundamentally merges the man and animal within Lear, as the "Howl" also evokes the question, "How?" The cries of "Howl" or "How" are not answered (nor, if we take "Howl" to be a command, is it followed); Clody says Lear trades an "objective communal truth" to explain what has just happened. for simply the "experience that the cry is."

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Here we have Lear (right) and the blinded Gloucester (left), posed symmetrically in a way that highlights their similar persons and situations. Lear's plot and Gloucester's subplot echo each other in more ways than we could discuss here. This moment comes in Act 4, Scene 6, when Gloucester and Lear meet after the storm. Both have, as Stanley Cavell observes, given into destruction--Lear to the storm, and Gloucester to the cliffs of Dover at his attempted suicide. Gloucester cries, "O ruined man! This great world/ Shall so wear to nought," implying that Lear's fate is not only Lear's, but that of the world (or perhaps just the kingdom) around him. But of course, it is Gloucester's fate as well; both come to their demise by the end of the play. The symmetrical image above, then, shows Lear seeing a reflection of himself in Gloucester (we can quite easily imagine a mirror between them). And while Gloucester sees no mirror, "O ruined man!" could just as easily refer to himself, such that Lear indeed acts as a reflection.

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Lastly, we have the reconciliation of Lear and Cordelia in Act 4, Scene 7. Lear in this image seems to have worn down even further since the scene prior, further resembling the weakened Gloucester.

Reading with Extra-illustrated Shakespeare

This past week, my fellow CCEPS-SURPers and I went to Denison Library at Scripps College to plan for an exhibit they will be housing in the spring. The collection at Denison has some truly impressive artwork, including a book of surreal Lear woodcuts that particularly caught my attention. Today, though, I want to show you the extra-illustrated Henley Shakespeare, which is absolutely stunning.

The Henley Shakespeare works were commissioned by Ellen Browning Scripps for publication over the first five years of the 20th century. Twenty-six copies were commissioned--one for each letter of the alphabet. Denison has "S," for Scripps (naturally). The editions on their own are quite a sight, bound with red goatskin and featuring silk endpapers. Each book has two plays (besides the sonnets), with a portrait of one heroine each on the front and back inside covers.

But what's most striking about these editions is, surprisingly, not the beautiful bindings, but rather the artwork that's inside inside. Most notably, at some time in this copy's history (we don't know when), an unknown artist (or unknown artists) went through each play and added their own art nouveau illustrations, right on the page. Take a look at this title page for Measure for Measure:

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If the woman above is a character from Measure for Measure, it's not obvious who it is--it seems to be meant more as an eye-catching embellishment. The gold painted on, found on each play's title page and the start of many acts and scenes, is particularly attractive. Another gold-painted embellishment from this play bears mention:

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Here the artwork has quite clearly taken precedence over the text, as a number of words on the left-hand page are obscured by the opaque gold. The fact that the illustration is in the middle seam would seem to indicate that the illustrations (or at least this one) were actually drawn and painted before this copy was bound. This illustration again doesn't seem to relate directly with the text, but I thought it was worth displaying simply for its extravagance. 

Some of the other illustrations are more directly related to the scenes at hand, and are perhaps more intellectually interesting, as they constitute interpretive acts on the page itself--the artist and the playwright interacting within the text observed by the reader. Take a look at this watercolor of Cordelia from Act I, Scene I of Lear:

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The frustration on Cordelia's face is particularly striking. It's not obvious which line her glare is linked with. If we take it to be an illustration from the first line, it lends a not-so-subtle sarcasm to her first farewell. Referring to her sisters as "the Jewels of our father" is certainly not a genuine line, but whether her spite is forward or veiled is a rather large difference; is Cordelia trying to call out her sisters as fakes, or is she trying to save face as she leaves by appeasing them? Either way, after the coldness of Regan and Goneril, Cordelia is by no means trying to save face; her prophecy is scathing, such that the painting could just as well illustrate her "Well may you prosper." 

I would find it more interesting if the painting were of the first line, simply because it would constitute an interpretative decision of a more ambiguous feature of the scene. The text leaves open whether Cordelia's initial farewell is outwardly bitter or attempting sincerity; but this ambiguity cannot so easily be displayed in a realization of this text, whether on stage or in art. The ambiguity gives way to an interpretation that represents primarily one, rather than all, of the text's possibilities.

Courtship the King Henry V Way

In a Shakespeare class I took last semester, I read a great article by Phyllis Rackin and Jean Howard that explained how Henry V shows the shift of masculinity at the time Shakespeare wrote the play. Before this play, masculinity was linked to nobility through blood, i.e. preservation of a bloodline, whereas Henry V is the first of his plays to show masculinity as a result of achievement or conquest in battle and in love. Lust was once a feminine, emasculating vice, because a woman could dilute the bloodline and thus remove your masculinity, so denying women sex was seen as an expression of dominance. In this play, lust belongs to men as a tool of power; successfully seducing someone shows that same male dominance.

Near the end of Henry V (spoilers ahead!), King Henry seduces the French princess Katherine and marries her, thus sealing his control over France and validating his authority as a man and as a leader. This scene is often seen as a sort of coercion or forced wedding; Katherine barely speaks any English (and barely speaks at all) while Henry does the wooing, marrying her with little preamble and little input from her. It is likely that at different times in history, this scene was more or less romantic and organic; nowadays, with the emphasis on female autonomy that has been growing, this sort of seduction becomes problematic and unromantic, at least as I see it.

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In this picture, drawn by an unnamed reader, Katherine looks very young, swaddled and protected by a large hood. She looks almost sad, unmoved by the "conversation" taking place right next to her face. Maybe this reader thought the seduction was romantic and reciprocated; we can't know just from looking at this image. But the way that Katherine is shown - her clothes, her face, her expression - all contribute to a narrative about what this seduction means to the seduced party. Going through the scene with this mental image is very different from the next image:

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This Katherine, an image from the same copy of the play (by a different artist) shows a classic princess smiling sweetly in her pretty gown. Her royal status is emphasized by the crown and scepter and her romantic side comes through thanks to the flower and the sweet expression on her face, just as King Henry wanted if he is indeed partially using her to validate his authority. This Katherine fits the bill for what one might expect a willing contributor to a royal marriage to look like. If this Katherine comes on stage, the wedding is more likely to be a happy occasion than something done strictly for political gain, or unwillingly. 

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This photo is, to me, the most interesting. Entitled "The Wooing of Henry V," here we have Katherine sitting forlornly on a throne, accepting Henry's grand physical expression of love and desire. This Katherine looks like an adult woman, sitting in a position that normally would be one of power. She is a very different Katherine from the first two I've shown you, but at least in this still frame, we still see nothing to suggest that she wants this marriage as much as he does. Even the title gives a sense that this is not a conversation; it is a directed seduction. Henry woos Katherine, an unmoving, possibly undesirous female. 

To me, this seduction style is a flaw in the personality of the manly, charming Henry V. But to some, this scene is utterly romantic, an expression of love at first sight and the strength of love even with a significant language barrier. These opposed understandings of the same scene and relationship could reflect shifting cultural values over time, or it could simply be a result of who I am and how I was raised. The beauty of costume, design, and acting is that these elements combined could make me see an entirely different interpretation of the scene; possibly, if a charming Henry wooed the girl in purple from the second photo, I would be more on board with the seduction, at least in that production. The creators of different productions have a lot of power over interpretation, and they have no choice but to use and thus impact my understanding of the play.

Artistic Interpretations of The Tempest

This week, in preparation for our exhibit, I've been thinking more about versions. More specifically, different versions of the same thing. So today, I'll be talking about four different versions of The Tempest. I found some pretty cool stuff in the Honnold special collections, as well as in the collection at Denison Library (Scripps College). Not only did I see beautifully illustrated editions with the unaltered text, but I even found two operas.

The first piece I'm going to highlight today is from 1756 and pairs down the play to three shorter acts. Most of the prose is the same, but the main difference is that the writer converted Shakespeare's dialogue into airs to be sung. 
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So, as you can see here, Ariel opens the performance with a song, instead of the play opening to a ship in a storm. To me, this is just another example of Shakespeare's transcendence across genre. 

The Tempest seems to lend itself to opera (or at least theatricality), since in the 1850s, another edition, another version, emerges. A publisher in Paris printed an edition of The Tempest in Italian, another opera in three acts. 
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This book, however, contained the music and was put together more like sheet music instead of a play,as the previous one presents itself. 

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As you can see, the book contains the music as well as the corresponding lyrics. It even differentiates the parts, making it possible to easily see who is supposed to be singing. More than the previous English opera, this version moves one step further from the original through translation. Arguably, you could argue that there are two forms of translation, the first from English to French (since it's a French publisher), and then from French to Italian. Yet, despite these changes, for translation will never be exact, we may still recognize this product as The Tempest. Yet it is not just Shakespeare's anymore. Each translator and each composer left an artistic mark on the piece. Though the final product may be far from the original, it does mirror the mode of collaborative creation during Shakespeare's time.

In the vein of co-creative influence and difference, I want to quickly talk about two illustrated editions and the illustrator's choices (which impact a reader's interpretation). The first book contains watercolor illustrations, creating a softer overall image. The second takes a more whimsical, almost sinister or mischievous approach.

In this first edition, Ariel is more human than magic. He could be a fairy or an ordinary man based on his appearance.

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In contrast, the second edition portrays his as more spritely, with more pointed features, as well as more magical characteristics.

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We see Ariel as a formless force, clearly a magical being, but also with the suggestion that he himself is elemental, is the wind.

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These two different sets of illustrations further point to the versatility of interpretation in The Tempest (as well as many of Shakespeare's other works). In each one, we see an artistic twist, but in each we can see the core of the source, Shakespeare's magical tale of an abandoned island where music is in the wind and creatures lurk just out of sight. 



Approaching the light (at the end of the tunnel)

After weeks of doing the same type of work - re-foldering, creating folder titles, and on and on again - I was surprised and rather excited when I noticed yesterday that I am up to my last box of folders that need to be created! Many times it seemed like an ongoing process with no end in sight, but alas, I can see the light at the of the tunnel.

Last week I was away conducting research in Northern California, which was fantastic. 
When I returned to continue working on the collection, it felt as though I picked up right where I left off -- a good thing... but also somewhat intimidating, considering the seemingly endless work of foldering and re-foldering still ahead of me.
But, as I "plugged through" like in past weeks, suddenly there were no more boxes to grab and start anew! The box that was on the table in front of me would be the final one.

Of course, this doesn't mean the work is nearly complete. First off, although there remains only 1 final box of folders left, I still had to create a few more of our archival-sound boxes, since the folders I have used have added up to more total space than when originally donated. This includes putting together a flat box from "scratch" which provided a fun activity amidst all of the re-foldering.

Secondly, once the re-foldering process actually is complete and all of the boxes are filled with new, archival-sound, and properly titled folders, I will move on to the next process of entering all of the information online and creating the finding aid for the collection.

I will report back in a week regarding this next step. For now, I will enjoy the prospect of working on the collection in ways other than re-foldering and not much else!

Here are a few snapshots of the boxes and their folders... almost all done and ready to go!
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Nahum Tate's Redesigned Lear

In 1681, Nahum Tate published his The History of King Lear, an adapted and revised version of Shakespeare's play. It became the standard performance edition of Lear in England for over one and a half centuries, and yet it is infamously a radically different play; Tate took a number of liberties with the plot and characters to make the play more suitable for stage, and critics since the mid-19th century have widely panned his version as a result.

Special Collections has an edition from 1689, which I've been fortunate enough to start working with. Some of the text is faded at the corners, but overall it's in great condition and is a fascinating (if perhaps frustrating) read.

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This edition begins with an "Epistle Dedicatory" from Tate. It begins with reverence and (perhaps disingenuous) apprehension: Tate had "the difficult Task of making the chiefest Persons speak something like their Character, on Matter whereof I had no Ground in my Author. Lear's real and Edgar's pretended Madness have so much of extravagant Nature...as cou'd never have started but from out Shakespeare's Creating Fancy."

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While Tate dubs Lear and Edgar's madnesses "extravagant" and praises their author's singularity, he is in fact saying that he could have written their actions a bit better. He goes on: "'Twas my good fortune to light on one Expedient to rectifie what was wanting int he Regularity and Probability of the Tale, which was to run through the whole, a Love betwixt Edgar and Cordelia." Tate says this was necessary to render "Cordelia's Indifference, and her Father's Passion in the first Scene, probable." Moreover, it would give "Countenance to Edgar's Disguise, making that a generous Design that was before a poor Shift to save his Life." 

What Tate is really saying about the "extravagant Nature" of the character's actions is that they were unrealistic or unreasonable. Edgar's disguise is to be more understandable as a young man watching over his lover's father; Lear's rage is towards a stubborn daughter who won't doesn't wish to honor her house, through words or marriage. For Cordelia to show her father such disrespect ("Indifference"), he seems to imply, would require her to have a problem with being married off. The problem here, though, is that Cordelia isn't actually indifferent; her original response is about modes and settings of expression, not substance; "Love, and be silent," and "My hear'ts more richer than my tongue." Tate strips these line from his edition, perhaps to make her indeed seem indifferent. But he has not solved the problem of her indifference through a love affair with Edgar. Rather, he attempts to create an indifference or bitterness towards Lear , changing her behavior entirely.

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My personal favorite, the Fool, is missing from Tate's version; part of my study of Tate will be to investigate how the Fool's function of prophet and commentator is taken up by others in this version. The Irving Shakespeare indicates that directors found the Fool an unseemly character in the 1830s when the original was being revived. Perhaps Tate felt similarly, or perhaps he simply felt the Fool unnecessary. 

Tate makes one most significant change: famously, Edgar and Cordelia are married instead of the bloodbath of the original play; Tate writes that he did not want to "incumber the State with dead Bodies, which Conduct makes many Tragedies conclude with unseasonable Fests." For, he writes, "'tis more difficult to save than to Kill: The Dagger and Cup of Poison are always in Readiness; but the bring the Action to the last Extremity, and then by probably Means recover All, will require the Art and Judgement of the Writer, and cost him many a Pang in Performance." As with Lear and Edgar's madness, Tate invokes probability as an important guiding factor in his process. But again we should ask: is a happy ending the most "seasonable" or likely result, or truly the more "difficult" resolution to Shakespeare's original text? Or is it more reasonable only with Tate's alterations? Tate does seem to ignore that he has created something wholly new; what is probably or seasonable in his text says nothing about what is probable or seasonable in Shakespeare's.