A Short Passage on the Duke of Kent

Kent was my favorite character in King Lear. I found his character to be compelling and his ideology interesting. one of my favorite Kent moments was in act 2 scene two, wherein William Shakespeare channels all of his inner rage towards the mortal plane to write a string of insults spanning half a page, of course spoken by Kent, talking to Oswald. Believing him to be a spineless weasel willing to betray the king for power, he pulls a sword on Oswald(a nobleman) and risks is life for his ideals. Kent here really demonstrates a central point of his character, that being adherence to royal authority. one of Kent’s most important traits is his loyalty to the king, even implying that he killed himself after Lear died. after being banished just for speaking his mind, Kent returns to the king to serve him disguised as a commoner. he stays with the king, even when everyone but his fool has abandoned him and he’s alone in the rain. but this fierce loyalty is one lens from which to view what i believe to be the central theme of the book, being power and how one loses it. Kent, who remained unflinchingly loyal to the end, was an exception to the rule as the crafty Edmund, Goneril, and Regan all plotted against him once they felt he no longer had enough power to oppose their attempts to subvert him and his authority.

King and Queen of the Pelicans We

No other bird so grand we see.

Pelicans We (Cosmo Shelldrake, Pelicans We) is admittedly kind of cheating since it was adapted from a poem itself, The Pelican Chorus, written by Edward Lear back in the mid 1800s. Lear is most well known for writing The Book of Nonsense, a book of silly poems often making little sense. As such, to defend this song as poetry, I only must defend poetry as poetry.

The Pelican Chorus chronicles two pelicans, the king and queen of the pelicans, as it would happen. they detail why they believe themselves and their people(birds?) are the grandest of all their feathered kin. for none but they have feet like fins, and lovely, leathery throats and chins. the poem goes on to introduce their daughter, and in her honor, a feast they made with all of the birds that can swim or wade. the pelican princess falls in love with the crane king after he offers her a crocodile egg and a large fish tart, a well known strategy among humans to acquire mates. a grand wedding is held and the two fly off happily. however, almost all of the poem is cut from the song, which only contains the first two stanzas of the 6 in the poem.

The Pelican Chorus follows an AA BB rhyme scheme, as does pelicans we. however, a poem is usually defined not so much by its literal characteristics but by its emotional characteristics, what it makes you feel rather than what is written down. under the literal definition of a poem, nearly any song fits the bill, being defined by google as “a piece of writing that partakes of the nature of both speech and song that is nearly always rhythmical, usually metaphorical, and often exhibits such formal elements as meter, rhyme, and stanzaic structure.” under this definition, all songs are poetry.

The song’s language is fantastic. find me another song that just makes up words because they’re fun to say. i especially love this because that’s the chorus. Ploffskin, Pluffskin, pelican jee! this helps enforce the vibe of the song. it specifically serves as an affront to those searching for deeper meaning, but more importantly, is fun to say. this occurs multiple times throughout the song. for example, at one point, it describes the pelicans “stamping their feet with a flompy sound”. what does that mean? hell if i know, but that’s what’s so great about it. it allows the listener to envision any sound they think flompy might mean. it also uses “the ivory ibis starlike skim” to describe nighttime. now, i have no idea what that means, but it’s nonsense verse. it’s not supposed to mean anything, its supposed to be fun to read, say, and listen to, and it succeeds in that.

Pelicans We is one of my favorite songs because of how silly it is. In our modern social climate, stress is a near constant, and Pelicans We is notably devoid of this aspect. no matter how hard you look, the only meaning you can reasonably draw is of the pelicans’ self assured attitude, and how lovely and leathery their chins are. the song is an incredible piece of media because it offers its audience to truly relax and, just for a few minutes, wing to wing, dance around, stamping their feet with a flampy sound, open their mouths as pelicans ought, and hear the song that they nightly snort.

Kinng and Queen of the Pelicans we!
No other Birds so grand we see!
None but we have feet like fins!
With lovely leathery throats and chins!

Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee!
We think no Birds so happy as we!
Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican jill!
We think so then, and we thought so still!

Why Were Almost All of the Characters So 1-Dimensional?

I couldn’t help but feel that so many of the characters were in the story to do one thing and one thing alone. the nameless Arab never speaks, Salamano is never relevant outside the context of his dog, and the judge, Celeste, and the robot lady all only make momentary appearances. as far as more major characters go, the priest only acts as a priest, granted a nervous and emotional priest. Mersault’s mom is dead for the entirety of the runtime of the book, and most of the other background characters fulfill their role in the story with little depth to their own person being explored.

One could argue that this is a consequence of the book being in first person. Meursault doesn’t strike me as a particularly emotionally intelligent person. he is incredibly observant of behavior, but as far as emotions go he seems a step removed given Meursault’s own emotional behavior. this is compounded by the fact that the three characters that I would say have the greatest degree of depth to them, Maman, Raymond, and Marie, are the closest people to Meursault, and so he can see their own depth more clearly.

Poor Salamano

Salamano is a pretty minor part of the book, but I still really felt bad for him when he lost his dog. I just have to wonder what he represents. the obvious go-to is about how he beats his dog even though he clearly loves the poor thing , but I have a feeling it means more than that. At the same time I don’t know quite what. I have a suspicion it has to do with how they look sorta similar, as Meursault points out on page 27. perhaps in an esoteric sense, the dog is an extension of Salamano, which it is narrattively, Salamano is never brought up when not in relation to his dog. the book also mentioned that as they’e existed around each other for so long, they begin to look like each other. This further adds to the fact that, at least as far as the book is concerned, one is nothing without the other.