How Does Shakespeare Present King Lear's Descent Into Madness In Act 4

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How does Shakespeare present Lear’s descent into madness in act 3/4? Within Act 3 and 4, we see a deterioration of King Lear’s behaviour as he has been left exposed to nature’s evil. He is within the Heath accompanied by the Fool, ironically the only person keeping him from insanity. Since Lear gave up his land, he has witnessed his power of being ‘king’ becoming worthless since he gave up his materialistic power in land. It could be said that Lear is already mad before we enter act 3 and 4, however the sudden change in attitude we see shows that there is a further issue with King Lear beyond his temperamental attitude, and we actually see a more sympathetic type of behaviour as Lear meets Edgar (or Mad Tom). One of the most salient parts of Lear’s decent into madness is found in 3:4, a scene where Lear understands the true nature…show more content…
He states “Robes and furred gowns hides all” with the adjective ‘furred’ signifying wealth within the period of time the play is set, this is ironic since Lear removed all of his wealthy garments earlier, showing that Lear has a scoped vision that even though he dislikes these people, he was someone who had “glass eyes” (4:6 207). Lears exposure of these people may hint that he is going mad, since he has completely forgot about the person he was before. This could be a reference to the political corruption which took place during Shakespeare’s lifetime, since his plays are usually driven by motives and try to create a lesson beneath the production. In this case, Shakespeare might be trying to refer to the previous controversies surrounding banning of Theatre during the 16th century which prevented stories or underlying satire to be released to the public. This reference made has hints of corruption within the politics of a country, and the previous reference to land being split up could link with this weaving theme of power sometimes being used

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