How Important Is the Role of the Fool in Shakespeare's King Lear

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How Important Is the Role of the Fool in Shakespeare's King Lear

By | November 2012
Page 1 of 4
Act Two Scene Four
In this commentary, I plan to talk about the multiple themes present in this section of the text, and the overall importance of this scene to the play. This extract is taken from Act 2 Scene 4, and is a discussion between Lear and his daughters that confronts Lear’s growing worry of his daughters betraying him, as well as foreshadowing the future situation of the King. The first sentence of this segment immediately sets the tone, as Lear begs his daughter “Not to make him mad”. This opening sentence can be interpreted as foreshadowing to the King’s time in the heath where his daughters drive him to insanity, and he begins to go “mad”, cursing nature and condemning Regan and Goneril. This means that Goneril openly ignored the opening command given by Lear, which symbolizes the Kings waning power. This opening sentence also references the prominent theme of madness, which is present throughout the whole book. We see the King recognize his impeding madness by begging his daughter not to drive him over the line between sanity and insanity in a rare moment of clear headedness. This rare moment of lucidity is capitalized upon as Lear recognizes the poignancy of his situation, and his growing fears of both Goneril and Regan betraying him are confirmed. Due to this realization, Lear enters a vicious new world, and this harsh truth confronts Lear in a cruel manner, as both his daughters turn their backs on him. For the duration of this scene, Lear drops the royal pronoun, and refers to himself in first person, which shows this as a turning point for him, and strengthens his awareness of Regan and Goneril’s betrayal, as even he himself acknowledges a shift in standing that leaves him without power. This scene also underlines the theme of filial betrayal, as well as the theme of nothing. As is the same with much of the main plot, there are similarities between this scene and Gloucester, Edmund and Edgar’s situation, and the themes present are similar...

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