King Lear

Compare the madness of Lear to the madness of poor tom (edgar)

act 3 sence 4

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Edgar feigns a madness as poor Tom that provides a great contrast to Lear's actual madness by bringing into question what madness is and how it was looked upon in Shakespeare's day. History shows that in Shakespeare's time lunatics were viewed as comic entertainment. Elizabethans would go to certain places simply in order to watch lunatics act crazy. Furthermore, Edgar's character was believable on the level of a mad trickster, a common character in the day who was known to trick others into believing him out of his wits. In a time such as this, one had to be careful to illuminate a lunacy which would be taken seriously if that was Shakespeare's intent, which concerning King Lear we must assume it was.