The opposite of white: apollo's crow and learning to be silent in King Lear’

Scott, Charlotte. 2021. The opposite of white: apollo's crow and learning to be silent in King Lear’. Textual Practice, ISSN 0950-236X [Article] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

This article seeks to re-address the problem of Cordelia – not as a vessel of male prejudice, fantasy or repression but as an image of truth and the social life of that truth as it moves across the play world. Focusing on King Lear, I will examine the complex value of silence, not as negation or nothing, but as an ethical value through which the play explores the contested space of the unsayable. Considering Lear’s investment in power, monstrosity and self-knowledge, I investigate the story of Apollo’s crow, Aesop and Ovid, and what happened to the bird who told the truth and became ‘the opposite of white’. Re-imagining the unspeakable, as well as the unknowable, this essay argues that King Lear rehabilitates the power of nothing through a sceptical analysis of the value of acceptance and restraint, unhinged from their stoic or Christian contexts.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


King Lear; silence; women; Chaucer; truth

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


13 January 2021Accepted
18 March 2021Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Apr 2021 09:42

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2021 17:55

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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