Deterioration of King Lear

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The Deterioration of King Lear

Lear's transition from denial to rage to isolation occurs during the fourth scene of Act Two. Arriving at Gloucester's castle, Lear is puzzled by Regan's sudden absence from her home (which she does in order to avoid Lear). Seeing Kent stocked, Lear demands to know who punished his servant. Kent recounts the events that led to his restraint and Lear persists, through his several “no”s, that such cannot be true. A second glance at the stocked Kent rattles Lear's nerves and he suddenly demands Regan and Cornwall's presence in a much more aggressive manner than he initially had. Finally making an appearance, Regan suggests that Lear is at fault and hat it is he who should be apologizing to Goneril instead of vice versa. Lear is then torn between denial and rage, assuming that Regan will treat him better than Goneril had. When his treacherous daughter shows up at Gloucester's castle, Lear's helplessness becomes increasingly apparent. Lear is determined not to live on his daughter's terms—regardless of whether or not they are being fair—which is when he becomes isolated. He scolds his daughters for their poorly treatment towards him, heartbroken as he retreats into the natural world. Lear's refusal to compromise with his daughters results in his isolation.

Lear's denial begins with his initial scepticism towards Kent's disturbing revelation. He innocently denies that Kent's punishment implies Regan's rebelliousness, yet he is not fully unaware of the gravity of Kent's being stocked. “They could not, would not do't. 'Tis worse than murder. . .” (II. IV. 16) He adamantly tries to deny the reality of his situation when, asking to see Regan and Cornwall, his request falls upon deaf ears (another indication that he is being disrespected). He considers that they may have not been feeling well and therefore lacked mental clarity. As hysteria creeps up on Lear, he suddenly accepts Kent's punishment as an act of humiliation,...
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