king Lear: act 3 scene 4 notes

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King lear
King Lear: Act 3 Scene 4
Key: plot form language structure character
Lines 1-80: Kent has led Lear to shelter, but Lear refuses to enter. He says
the storm is nothing compared to his inner turmoil. He considers his
daughters ingratitude. Lear tells the fool to enter the shelter first, and
then offers a prayer for the poor, regretting how little he has done for
them in the past. The fool rushes out of the shelter frightened by the
appearance of Edgar disguised as mad Tom. Edgar speaks of being
tormented by the devil, to give the impression that he is mad. Lear sees the
near naked mad Tom as a reflection of his own condition, and is convinced
his ungrateful daughters are to blame.
Line 12 "tempest in my mind" compares his emotions to a tempest of a storm,
continuing the semantic field of weather.
Lear has the longest turns and sentences are complex e.g. lines 28-32,
although this no longer represents his power but now it represents his fits
of madness and confusion.
Lines 81-116: Edgar tells Lear a lie that he was a serving man's son who
enjoyed a sensual life. Lear sees him representing the true nature of man,
unspoiled by society. He then begins to tear off his own clothes.
Lines 117-185: Gloucester arrives and Edgar fears he will be recognised. He
calls his father a demon and goes on to exaggerate his madness with a
description of his disgusting diet. Gloucester is surprised to find Lear with
such people. Gloucester has come to take Lear back. Lear says he wants to
talk to mad Tom. Gloucester isn't surprised at Lear's condition as his own
son's behaviour has affected him so much. Gloucester tries to usher Tom into
the shelter, Lear suggests they all go in together. They decide to take mad
Tom back with them.
Edgar uses third person when talking about himself which shows a loss of
personality (lines 50-62)
Line 127: "what he?" Lear doesn't recognise Gloucester as his madness is
causing forgetfulness.
Line 155: Lear compares Edgar directly to a philosopher as he feels he is a
wise man who understands nature, suggests Lear is more inclined to live with
nature and has become more humble in himself.
Dramatic irony throughout the scene as the audience knows Edgar isn't
really mad, he is just pretending, but Lear is really mad. Gives audience two
displays of what madness could mean.

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