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Shakespeare used disguise in most of his play, so although disguises are not surprising, they are a bit different from what we've seen before. Generally, Shakespeare's use of disguise complicated the plot and provided irony. This was not the case in King Lear.
In King Lear, disguises add to the plays intensity (emotional). Edgar disguised himself because it was necessary, but why did he disguise himself as a madman? And why did he continue the ruse while alone with his father? That question can be answered simply by saying that there was no reason outside of Shakespeare's desire to express himself, to write his characters in the way he wished. People have said that much of this was improbable, meaning, how many men don't recognize their own sons? Good point, but think about it this way......
King Lear is a madman...... he wears no disguise, and yet, he is recognized by the blind man. Edgar is anything but mad, but his disguise serves to fool everyone, including his father.
King Lear is a tragedy..... and the biggest part of the tragedy can be felt by us (the audience) because we know what's happening. Thus, we experience the tragedy firsthand as it unfolds.