Essay about The Theme of Madness in King Lear

1254 Words Dec 23rd, 2005 6 Pages
According to the Paperback Canadian Oxford Dictionary, to be mad is to be "insane" and to have "a disordered mind." Throughout King Lear, there are several different characters who one would question if they are in an orderly state of mind. The Earl of Kent, Edgar, the Fool, and King Lear all portray varying degrees of madness. Some have alternative motives behind their madness while others are simply losing touch with reality around them.
The Earl of Kent is a close advisor to King Lear. Lear decides to split up his kingdom between his two daughters, Regan and Goneril, and to banish his youngest daughter, Cordelia, from the kingdom. Kent strongly advises Lear to keep reign over his own kingdom and insists that Cordelia should not be
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Throughout the play, Edgar gives us the illusion of madness. He himself is not mad, but he adopts the disguise of someone who is. Tom is incapable of reasonable and rational thought. He carries on about incoherent subjects and seems not to understand his surroundings. Of course, Edgar is aware of what is taking place around him and, when the time of need arises, his mind is as sharp as ever. Edgar does reunite with his now blinded father, and eventually reveals himself to Gloucester as well as Edmund and the rest of the kingdom. The Fool, a servant to the king, has a very close relationship with King Lear. He acts as entertainment, but is also a source of advice for the king. Although the Fool's banters sound like foolish nonsense, if you delve deeper into their meanings you will find that they are quite insightful to what is happening in the kingdom. After Lear gives his kingdom away, the Fool offers up a riddle in which he calls Lear a fool: That lord that counsell'd thee To give away thy land, Come place him here by me, Do thou for him stand: The sweet and bitter fool Will presently appear;
The one in motley here, The other found out there. (1.4.118-125)

Lear asks if he is being called a fool, and the Fool cleverly replies, "All thy other titles thou hast given away" (1.4.127). The Fool is of course referring to Lear's mistake of giving away his kingdom. The Fool holds no high position in life and would "rather be any

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