Lesson 8 Key Question
In act III of King Lear the apparent madness expressed in the speeches of Lear, the Fool and Edgar actually contain a great deal of wisdom and insight. Before giving away this kingdom, Lear was sheltered from everything. Now, after giving away his precious kingdom to his two daughters and having everything go completely wrong, Lear is left with nothing and now has to experience life with all of its natural terrors. At the beginning of scene 2, Lear is screaming at nature, like a mad man, to hit him with everything it’s got. “Rage! Blow! You cataracts and hurricanes, spout till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!” (3.2. 1-3). Lear seems to be going mad at this point but he is testing nature’s strength to seeing what it throws at him. The effects of nature on Lear real help him realize what a person`s needs really are. “The art of our necessities is strange, that can make vile things precious” (3.2. 70-71). Lear’s madness has helped him realize what an individual needs in order to survive when left with nothing. From this point onward Lear is never the same, he will keep getting stronger mentally. The suffering he goes throw leads him to greater insight. In scene 4, the storm continues and Lear is standing right in the middle of it. “In such at night to shut me out! Pour on; I will endure. In such a night like this! O Regan, Goneril! Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all! O, that way madness lies; let me shun that! No more of that.” (3.4. 17-22). This shows madness, but also a great deal of wisdom and insight because he will not let his two evil daughters’ defeat him and his actions at this point are only making him stronger.
Edgar’s madness is much different than King Lear’s. Edgar is pretending to be mad in order to avoid being caught and executed at the hands of his father, Gloucester. Edgar screams, “Fathom and half, fathom and half!” (3.4. 37), when the Fool finds him in the shelter. Edgar shows wisdom here...
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