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  • Date Submitted: 05/01/2012 08:08 PM
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Matthew May
Professor Scheye
14 March 2012
King Lear: Insanity

Insanity occupies a central place and is associated with both disorder and madness Throughout King Lear. Insanity intertwines itself within the thoughts of many characters that undergo hardships. It is deep within all the characters especially King Lear. The initial sanity of King Lear unravel’s itself, bringing him into a state of insanity. I believe that King Lear is an egomaniac and that his anger and thirst for revenge over his daughters led him into a spiral descent into the dungeons of insanity.  
It is King Lear’s decision to divide his kingdom among his three daughters that will lead to his demise. In Act 2, King Lear’s daughters, Goneil and Regan, conspire to completely demolish their father’s royal status. Goneril makes him go through what Shakespeare calls the “Wheel of Fortune” by demanding Lear to cut his knight count in half from 100 to 50. Lear responds by cursing her, and then attempts to seek refuge by going to live with Regan. The conniving sisters stand by each other and stick to their original plan in an attempt to ruin King Lear and assume power for themselves. Regan follows Goneril’s lead and orders Lear to deplete his army down to zero. This series of event is the main influence of his future insanity.
Lear’s daughters stripped him of all dignity and turned many of his people against him. Through cruelty, they stripped him of his sanity and took over the kingdom while throwing him into the wilderness to face a raging storm. They deceived their father and plotted his death. Gloucester and King Lear’s dialogue in act 3 reflects not only the betrayal of King Lear’s two daughters, but also the betrayal of Gloucester’s sons as well.
King Lear loses all hope and lets his madness fully take over. This is portrayed by the raging storm that has come upon his former kingdom. Lear wails, “Rumble thy bellyful. Spit, fire. Spout, rain, nor, rain, wind thunder, fire are my daughters”...


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