The Theme of Madness in King Lear

Topics: King Lear, Mind, Emotion Pages: 4 (1243 words) Published: December 9, 2005
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 renounced. With these displeasing remarks to Lear, Kent is banished from the kingdom as well. Instead of leaving the kingdom, Kent returns under a disguise to continue to watch over Lear. While trying to gain a place in the king's company, Kent plays the role of a somewhat senile old man who has extreme loyalty to his king. Take, for instance, Kent physically and verbally attacking the servant, Oswald, for no more reason than to gain a laugh from the king and reinforce his loyalty to the king. These acts, while they do have good reason behind them, lead to Kent being put in the stocks. Some will say that to risk being caught while banished from the kingdom is mad. It is an even madder deed to take company with the one who has banished you in the first place. Kent's instance of madness is for greater good. He is there to help look after Lear's deteriorating mindset and to counsel and consol Cordilia who returns to support her father.

Edgar is the son of the Earl of Gloucester. Edgar is framed by his brother, Edmund, for conspiring to kill their father. He is banished from the kingdom and Gloucester wishes him to be captured, dead or alive. Despite the reward on his life, Edgar takes on the disguise of Tom O'Bedlam...
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