King Lear: Egg-as-crown Metonymy

1175 Words Jun 15th, 2018 5 Pages
In metonymy… the literal term for one thing is applied to another with which it has become closely associated because of a recurrent relationship in common experience. Thus “the crown” or the scepter can be used to stand in for a king. (Abrams’ Glossary of Literary Terms, 98)
In the play King Lear by William Shakespeare, the Fool compares King Lear’s Crown to an egg. Shakespeare’s use of metonymy to replace the crown with an egg implies that Lear’s kingship is fragile and brittle, on the verge of breaking at any moment. We find through the narrative of the play that this is indeed true; King Lear’s kingdom crumbles due to his foolish mistakes. King Lear’s first mistake of laziness and selfishness leads to the banishment of
…show more content…
Then let fall your horrible please,
(III, ii, 15-20)
In this quote, Lear voices that he never treated his daughters with unkindness during his Kingship, and believes he does not deserve the treatment he is receiving. Lear’s life is filled with deceit and bad things are to come. “Canst thou blame him? /His daughters seek his death.” (III, iv, 165-166) says Gloucester. The kingdom loses its foundation as Lear’s authority slips away.

The second crack occurs when Lear loses his sanity. He loses his mind when he discovers his daughters’ betrayal and realizes the mistake he made in banishing his only true and loyal daughter. The disgraced king appears in Act IV, Scene vi with a “crown” of wildflowers on his head. The impromptu crown depicts King Lear’s mental state, “I would not be thee, Nuncle: thou hast pared they wit o’both sides and left nothing I’th’middle.” (I, iv, 190-193). Not only does this quote demonstrates Lears lack of sanity, but explains the scene of the quote and correlation to the flower crown. The kingdom falls apart and plunges into anarchy as the French army led by Cordelia attacks England. The egg, and King Lear finally shatter in half when Lear discovers that Cordelia is captured and killed. He cries:
I might have
Open Document