King Lear Essay

774 WordsMar 27, 20144 Pages
Madness is not exclusive to Shakespeare’s King Lear; rather it is a universal issue that entwines itself within society. Madness is perceived in several characters of Shakespeare’s play King Lear. King Lear himself, the Fool, and Edgar all portray varying degrees of this insanity; some with alternative motives, while others appear to be simply losing touch with reality. Numerous contributions lead to King Lear's madness, and the betrayal of his daughters Goneril and Reagan is a significant one. The two have led their father, in his sincere trust and loyalty, astray as they relinquish his power, plunging him into madness. After they flatter him, Lear’s kingdom is divided between them both. Lear is under the impression that he will still have his title and spend equal times in their homes. However, the two demoralise their fathers authority by reducing the number of knights he has “I am ashamed that thou hast power to shake my manhood” (To Goneril) showing they have taken away his power that the followers gave him. They also kick him out of their homes and into a violent storm instead of providing him shelter. “Shut up your doors” Regan tells Gloucester, locking Lear out with nowhere to go. The vicious storm brewing outside in Act 3 is a physical and natural reflection, symbolising the rising madness engulfing Lear. As the storm embodies its powerful nature, Lear recognises his own morality and human frailty, bringing a sense of humility for the first time. “I have full cause of weeping; but this heart *Storm and tempest* shall break into a hundred thousand flaws or ere I'll weep. O fool! I shall go mad!” Shakespeare also portrays the transformation of man into the storm and storm into man as Lear goes mad. Personifying the storm with him and the children he has begotten, Lear wails, “Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! Spout, rain! Nor rain, wind,

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