Essay on Madness in King Lear: Act 4

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Madness in King Lear: Act 4 In Shakespeare's play King Lear, Shakespeare introduces many themes. The most important theme shown in King Lear is the theme of madness. During the course of this play madness is shown in the tragic hero, King Lear. King Lear develops madness right in the beginning of the play but he actually shows it in Act 4. In this act, King Lear is not only at the peak of madness but it is also shown him coming out of his madness as well. This act is likely to be the most important act because it shows the phases King Lear goes through, from complete madness to him coming out of his madness and realizing his mistake, the point of tragic vision. The theme of madness in King Lear is first shown in the act through Cordelia's…show more content…
King Lear is shown completely insane, through his garments and his speeches to Gloucester and Edgar. In one of his speeches, King Lear makes comments about a mouse and a bird that are not present. "..Look look, a mouse! Peace, peace; this piece of toasted cheese will do it…O, well flown, bird!" [iv, vi, 88-91]. This statement was the first sign of him being mad. At the beginning of Act 4, it was just mentioned that King Lear was gone mad, this was the first sign of proof that he was indeed mad. Although King Lear shows signs of being mad, he also shows signs of being sane. This is shown through him knowing the cause of him being mad. If King Lear was completely mad he would not be able to justify the reason for his madness. In [iv, vi, 96-105] he states that his daughters’ have done him wrong and shows signs of insanity when he calls Gloucester Goneril. "Ha! Goneril with a white beard? They flattered me like a dog, and told me I had white hairs in my beard ere the black ones were there. To say ‘Ay’ and ‘no’ too was no good divinity…Go to, they are not men o’ their words! They told me I was everything. ‘Tis a lie- I am not ague-proof." This quote shows Lear’s sanity. Lear may have qualities in him to make him seem mad but he possess sanity, enough to know the cause of his madness. This possession of sanity soon brings King Lear to his moment of tragic vision. King Lear’s moment of tragic vision comes when he is
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