Madness In Shakespeare's King Lear

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One of Shakespeare 's most famous plays is King Lear, which is the story of an ancient British king who has conflicts over love and property with his daughters. This play is probably one of the greatest ever written, because it contains many motifs and symbols that serve as pointers to the audience and lessons for all. One of the motifs in King Lear is that of madness, and this mostly shows with the title character. This is rooted in events that occur in Acts I and II, which then cause Lear to go insane in Acts III and IV, with Lear finally being killed by it in Act V. King Lear mainly goes insane due to his own actions at the beginning. To start Act I, King Lear is dividing his kingdom between his three daughters: Cordelia (who really loves him), Goneril (who does not love him), and Regan (who also does not love him). To justify this, Lear asks each of his daughters to tell him how much they love him. Goneril and Regan flatter him and Cordelia, despite truly loving him, says that she only loves him as a daughter should love her father. This enrages…show more content…
King Lear arrives in front of Kent, Edgar, and Edmund with Cordelia dead in his arms, mourning his terrible loss. Soon afterward, Lear dies of a broken heart, but what are significant are his dying words. In these words, he seems to suggest that Cordelia is still holding on to life. He even tells the others to "Look on her. Look, her lips. Look there, look there," to offer evidence that she is still alive before he dies (Act V sciii l. 326-327). However, Lear is not fully cured of his madness, and may be hallucinating. What is difficult about this section is that we are not sure if Lear is going insane one last time or if he is speaking the truth, mainly because no other character says anything about his dying words. What is true is that his final words are quite mysterious and leave the audience hanging as the play
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