King Lear

Lear's Madness - The Breakup of Social Ideals in King Lear

In ÃÂÂReflections on the Revolution in FranceÃÂ?, Edmund Burke described the effect a complete perversion of social order had on its citizens. He watched as the French Revolution shredded a monarchy, publicly slaughtered tens of thousands, and replaced the old order with a new one. Burke described how this fresh structure decimated the minds of many, so set in their ideals of social roles that a radical change could only drive them mad. Their resistance to a new ideal tore through their beliefs and shoved them to the brink of insanity. This same effect can be seen in the mind of ShakespeareÃÂÂs King Lear. A man, an archetypal king, who was so immersed in his ideals of hierarchical social roles that any deflection from these roles pushed him to the outreaches of his mind. He had very little concept of the more natural human bonds that exist between people, the bonds that Shakespeare so beautifully defines. Because of this, when the roles he invests his life in shatter, Lear can only grasp the rung of insanity. From this insanity, however, he discovers the natural bonds that stretch longer and much more deeply between humans. King LearÃÂÂs madness was a passage that destroyed his ideal of the social role and replaced it with the...

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