The Theme Of Madness In Shakespeare's King Lear

Decent Essays
In King Lear, one consistent theme throughout the play is madness, specifically King Lear’s descent into madness. Lear is constantly fluctuating between a state of worsening madness and then seemingly recovering from these descents. This creates a sense of uncertainty for the reader as to whether Lear will finally recover or whether he will spiral into an irreversible state of madness with no chance of returning. The language, syntax, and the significance of nature, specifically the storm, play a major role in establishing madness as an integral theme throughout the play. Specifically, as the three passages I will discuss in this essay show, Shakespeare emphasizes the concepts of power and an unclear sense of reality during the pivotal storm scene in Acts II and III in order to demonstrate Lear’s wavering decline into madness. In 2.2.290, Lear begins his furious rant against Regan and Cornwall when they refuse to see him upon his arrival to their castle. As a whole, the delivery of the dialogue in this passage is consistent with Lear’s state of mind. The sentences are more like phrases and punctuated with hyphens, which creates an unsteady rhythm if read aloud or performed. This is seen when he states, “The King would speak with Cornwall, the dear father would …show more content…
His severe descent into madness is thoroughly evidenced by Shakespeare’s use of language and syntax as well as the pivotal storm scene. Lear’s wavering mental state creates a sense of uncertainty in the reader for the majority of the play. But any questions the reader may have regarding Lear’s possible recovery are answered at the end of King Lear. Lear suffers the ultimate decline and only then in this final moment does it become clear to the reader that he does not recover from his descent into madness. Instead, this constant battle in Lear’s own head he went through most of the play causes him to go mad to the point of

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