The theme of Appearance in King Lear

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Mind Map by becca_ward0508, updated more than 1 year ago
becca_ward0508
Created by becca_ward0508 about 6 years ago
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Mind Map on The theme of Appearance in King Lear, created by becca_ward0508 on 04/26/2014.

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The theme of Appearance in King Lear
1 Disguise/ cothing/ nakedness/ reality
1.1 Two main forms of disguise- the emotional (when characters lie), or physical (when a costume/ identity is worn)
2 Concerned with the need for wisdom to tell the difference between appearance and reality- links to the theme of blindness
2.1 Both fathers in the main plot and subplot deal with children who deceive by appearances. Lear is taken by false words and appearances just as Gloucester is.
2.1.1 Goneril & Regan are the personification of hypocrisy
2.1.2 Lear believes the saccharine professions of his older daughters and divides his kingdom between them- rejecting the reality of the truthfully and devoted Cordelia
2.1.3 Gloucester too banishes loyal Edgar and believes the deceitful Edmund
3 Clothing vs nakedness = shallowness vs substance
3.1 Kent & Edgar who utilize physical disguise (as Caius/ Poor Tom) have pure and decent motives- their disguises are made in order to be loyal.
3.1.1 However Goneril, Regan, Edmund and Cornwall hide their true natures through clothing- Shakespeare's clothing imagery- a savage critique on aristocratic manners and affectations
3.1.1.1 Lear: "through tattered clothes do great vices appear; robes and furred gowns hide all". - The theme of outward show of authority hiding a multitude of sins
3.1.1.1.1 Lear: "we are come to this great stage of fools"- we are fools if we are swayed by what we find on the outside of things.
3.1.1.1.1.1 Lear: "a dog's obeyed in office"- Lear says that the image of a dog chasing off a beggar is symbolic of authority- anyone will be obeyed if they hold a position of power (Goneril /Regan /Cornwall) irrespective of their true personal wealth or merit (Edgar as Poor Tom/ Kent)- appearance vs reality theme
3.1.1.1.1.1.1 Shakespeare here- critisicing society- expressing dangerous political sentiments for the time in which he lived- corruption of the courts; but Lear's madness acts as a buffer. All that glisters is not gold.
3.1.1.1.1.1.2 Edgar in Tom's near nakedness is the opposite of aristocratic fashion- in the new order an ordinary man is more valuable than a banished aristocrat. Gloucester needs a commoner to help/ guide him
3.1.1.1.1.1.2.1 The naked Tom also helps Lear to see the naked truth (reality)
3.1.1.1.1.1.2.1.1 Lear says to Edgar- "thou ow'st the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume"- Lear has lost everything but in the process has gained a profound insight that man without his trappings of power & wealth is a poor, naked animal
3.1.1.1.1.1.2.1.1.1 Wishing to emulate the truth embodied in Tom's nakedness- Lear begins to unbutton. Previously Lear has identified clothes with superficial pomp- undressed he is now like Tom- a free man in a "state of nature"
3.1.1.1.1.1.2.1.2 Edgar helps Lear to unmask the uselessness of loyalty- which is a "lending" both unnecessary and "superfluous".
3.1.1.1.1.2 Play's paradox- the Fool appears to be foolish however in reality he is wise. "The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long, that it's had it head bit off by it young"- the Fool sees through the apparent loving daughters- compares Goneril & Regan to predatory birds- traitorous/ selfish in nature
3.2 Juxtaposition- although Edgar's identity seems destroyed- in reality his self actually grows
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