King Lear - Literature | Academic discussions and essay

How are blindness and madness used to develop characters in King Lear?

Madness in King Lear by Iain Perry on Prezi

What evidence exists in the play as proof that ‘reason is madness’?

In King Lear, both insanity and blindness ordain individuals with new understandings of life.

Madness in King Lear - Term Paper

madness in king lear, william shakespeare ..

Kent and Lear find their way to the cave, where Lear asks to be left alone. He notes that the storm rages harsher in his own mind and body due to the "filial ingratitude" he has been forced to endure. Thinking it may lead to madness, Lear tries not to think of his daughters' betrayal. Feeling the cruelty of the elements, Lear remarks that he has taken too little care of the poor who often do not have shelter from such storms in life. The fool enters the cave first and is frightened by the presence of Edgar disguised as poor Tom. Edgar enters, speaking in confused jargon and pointing to the foul fiend who bothers him greatly. Lear decides that Tom must have been betrayed by daughters in order to have fallen to such a state of despair and madness. Kent attempts to tell Lear that Tom has no daughters, but Lear can comprehend no other reason. Fool notes that the cold night would turn them all into madmen. Lear finds Tom intriguing and asks him about his life, to which Edgar replies that Tom was a serving man who was ruined by a woman he had loved. Lear realizes that man is no more than what they have been stripped to and begins to take off his clothes before Fool stops him.

King Lear study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.


Free King Lear Essays and Papers - 123HelpMe

In this state of rugged, stripped, essential man, Lear is able to focus on some important human issues that he has overlooked as king. Left to battle the elements of nature and the storms that are its products like the poor, Lear is forced to think on the daily lives of the homeless and his ignorance of the poor's situation. He comments, "Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,/ That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,/ How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,/ Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you/ From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en/ Too little care of this!" (III.4.28-33). This is a climactic moment for Lear, as he stands on the threshold of madness. He will descend, it seems, as soon as he comes face to face with Edgar the reflection of madness he holds as philosophy and wisdom. And perhaps Lear comes much closer to a wisdom of humankind as a result. Madly, he attempts to strip himself naked only moments later before being stopped by the Fool, whose madness (when faced with Lear's) becomes simple complacency as he tries to look out for his master's safekeeping. In this, we see again how sane the Fool has been all along and how real Lear's madness is to make the Fool's speech become so practical. Lear is trying to physically strip himself of the artifice he has noticed within himself and most of mankind. He wishes to be put on par with poor Tom, a man who has lived much closer, he thinks, to the truth of nature.

What Role Does Madness Play in 'King Lear'

Edgar's character of poor Tom of Bedlam was based greatly on a text published shortly before Shakespeare's writing of King Lear. Harsnet's Declaration of Egregious Popishe Impostures, published in 1603, seems to provide much of the basis for Tom's language as well as the mention of the surreptitious "foul fiend" which plagues Tom constantly, biting at his back and instigating other evils upon him. With a feigned demonic madness, Tom's character is questioned less by the other characters allowing Edgar to provide commentary through his asides and the irony he often provides, especially in the contrast established between the disguised and acted madness he chooses and the uncontrollable, anguished madness which overtakes Lear. Tom also provides the physical character to represent the man Lear realizes he has ignored during his rule as King of Britain. Immediately after Lear cries out in recognition of his ignorance, he meets poor Tom. This allows Shakespeare to give more distinct meaning to Lear's, and later Gloucester's, wish for greater equality among the population in terms of money and favors. Lear exclaims, "Take physic, pomp;/ Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,/ That thou mayst shake the superflux to them/ And show the heavens more just" (III.4.33-36). In much the same vein as Robin Hood, Shakespeare here promotes a system where the rich would share their excess, their artifice, with the poor in order to even out the ranks a bit. Lear, in this manner, places himself at an equitable level with Tom and refuses to leave the stormy outdoors for shelter unless he can bring Tom with him. Lear has made his greatest leaps in humane awareness since his descent toward madness and his acquaintance with Tom. He states this for the audience when he remarks, "Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou ow'st the/ worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfumeŠThou art the thing itself; unaccomodated man is no/ more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou [Edgar] art" (II.4.97-102). Clothing, excesses such as Lear referred to when speaking to Regan and Goneril about the need of his train, is superfluous and a great symbol of the artifice Lear has finally stripped from his body.

Madness in King Lear Research Paper - 1092 Words

King Lear study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.