Lear cries out, praying that he will not go mad. With Cordelia all this is just reversed. He shrewdly acts as if he is embarrassed to show it to Gloucester and continually makes excuses for Edgar's apparent behavior. The characters in Lear's train who speak to him are well behaved, polite, and honorable. This is an unbearable thought, and, perhaps, this is why Lear dies of a broken heart. Other characters who do not betray Lear—particularly Kent—admire Cordelia for her virtue and mildness.
Edmund allies himself with Regan and Goneril to defend Britain against the French army mobilized by Cordelia. His repeated questions about his identity suggest that he is slowly discovering that in giving away his authority and wealth, he has given away his previous identity. There are some parallels between the way Lear goes about this imaginary trial and the ceremony in Act I, scene i. Hence, when Goneril is stinging her ingratitude into him, he exclaims, O most small fault, How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show! Blindness will become a physical problem for Gloucester later in the play, but its metaphoric weight is used to foreshadow and heighten this development. One of the most perfect displays of dramatic power is the first interview between Lear and his daughter, after the designed affronts upon him, which, till one of his knights reminds him of them, his sanguine temperament had led him to overlook.
Ultimately, it is their own villainy that consumes them. His circumstances are quite similar to Lear's. The betrayal of his oldest daughters drives Lear to insanity. And so in the name of duty they study to inflame the waywardness that provokes their scorn. O, look upon me, sir, And hold your hands in benediction o'er me:— No, sir, you must not kneel.
O, let no woman's weapons, water-drops, Stain my man's cheeks! Lear's identity, like all identities, is ultimately unstable and relative to particular social and political conditions. This contradicts the fact that Fool had enough insight to recognise Kent in act 2 and the King did not. But Cordelia, the youngest, says nothing because she cannot voice her deep love for Lear. Being thus surprised into a tempest of passion, in the disorder of his mind he at once forgets the thousand little daily acts that have insensibly wrought in him to love Cordelia most, and to expect most love from her. The two truly noble characters in the play, Edgar and Cordelia, have both been exiled by their fathers.
He prefers flattery over true love and wants to be respected as a king without taking on any of the responsibility that the role entails. She is, to some measure, seduced into villainy by Goneril. Thus, Lear chooses to go out into the storm because he must retain some element of control. He expects to have everything his own way. Kent remains loyal to the king who banished him, and he's traveling with Lear in disguise. As one critic raises, how would Kent and France recognize Cordelia's sincerity and inner beauty when her own father cannot? Note that Gloucester immediately believes the letter which Edmund shows him, not at once questioning Edmund's honesty although it would be doubtful that Gloucester had any previous reason to suspect or distrust Edgar. This shows the metaphysical connection Lear had to the storm as he shows that he regrets giving his kingdom to his children and he comes to the realisation he had made a mistake.
Outraged, Lear admits that Goneril's offense makes Cordelia's seem small. Certain presages and predispositions of insanity are manifest in his behavior from the first, as the joint result of nature, of custom, and of superannuation. In spite of his despair and self-pity, Lear is revealed as a complex man, one whose punishment far exceeds his foolish errors, and thus, Lear is deserving of the audience's sympathy. Please for a detailed examination of Edgar's character and motivations. The depth of Lear's anger toward Kent, his devoted follower, suggests excessive pride — Lear refuses to be wrong. This brings more complexity to the play and questions the position of authority and age since Gloucester clearly presents a notion of blindness to Edmond's intention, yet ironically he gains more insight after the loss of his eyes as he is shown to recognise the king.
It is a ruthless play, filled with human cruelty and awful, nonsensical disasters. She is as power hungry and ruthless as her sister Goneril, though she often follows the lead of Goneril. The once-omnipotent king struggles to find an effective means of dealing with his loss of power. He angrily leaves for Regan's residence. So Lear has to deal with the power struggle his retirement sparked without two of the people who could have smoothed the transition. Oswald exits as Fool enters.
King Lear is, in a way, an experiment in identity loss. Shakespeare likely includes such moments to complicate and add nuance to his themes while simultaneously encouraging us to question the motivations of deceitful characters like Regan. . But the meeting between Lear and Cordelia is by far the most affecting part of them. His strange journey makes Lear a much better person. For her, the private love she has for him as a father is more important that the authority he wields as king.
Significantly, Edmund is fully aware of his unscrupulous nature, and sees it not as a result of his illegitimacy but simply as who he is: Edmund I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Oswald reenters, showing Lear the negligence Goneril had suggested. Many of us have had experiences not unlike Lear's, in which we've lost something of great value to us - such as money or a job - and have, as a result, developed a sense of humility and empathy for those who are less fortunate than we were and might again be. This refusal is not a marker of her disloyalty or treachery, as Lear originally assumes. Most readers conclude that Lear is simply blind to the truth. To produce sleep, to quiet the mind by medical and moral treatment, to avoid all unkindness, and, when the patients begin to convalesce, to guard, as he directs, against everything likely to disturb their minds and cause a relapse, is now considered the best and nearly the only essential treatment.