He that has and a little wit/
With hey, ho, the wind and
the rain/ Must make content
with his fortunes fit/ Though
the rain it raineth everyday'
In other words Lear must resign himself to a world which is
always against him whilst giving him a different perspective
'A cart draws the horse'
Used to clarify that the world of Lear is
nothing but a dystopian upside down world
Insanity occupies a central place in the play and is
associated with both disorder and hidden wisdom. The
Fool, who offers Lear insight in the early sections of the
play, offers his counsel in a seemingly mad babble. Later,
when Lear himself goes mad, the turmoil in his mind
mirrors the chaos that has descended upon his kingdom.
At the same time, however, it also provides him with important
wisdom by reducing him to his bare humanity, stripped of all royal
pretensions. Lear thus learns humility.
Madness is a personal journey; a road to redemption
Bedlam was an aslym from the early
fifth century for the insane and mad
Lear is joined in his real madness by
Edgar’s feigned insanity, which also
contains nuggets of wisdom for the king
to mine. Meanwhile, Edgar’s time as a
supposedly insane beggar hardens him
and prepares him to defeat Edmund at
the close of the play.
Shakespeare uses him
as a social commentator
'Edgar I nothing am'
'the basest and most poorest shape'
Contrast with Edmund
My mind as generous and my shape as true
When my dimensions are as well compact
Lack of sanity
An element of renunciation
Wheel of fortune is reversed
Dramatised with wind and rain
Externally represents his mad subconscience
In one production Lear is shown to be ripping off his clothes
Portrays his new emancipation
Lear as a Christ-Like figure
Moment of Anagnoris
Moment of Catharsis
Adopts Edgar's mannerisms/ visceral thought process
Treats him as a philosopher despite his pretence
Shakespeare presents madness in King Lear as an essentially enabling phenomenon- one which offers
illuminating perspectives on the world.
A03 Critic ' a drama of meaningful suffering
and redemption, within a just universe ruled
by providential higher powers
The mood of madness permeates the play
Clear transformation from power to mental unrest
Natural Imagery of the naked human body
Escape the trapping of clothes/society
Moment of Anagnorisis
Universal enlightenment in the
characters' though process