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Disguise In King Lear Essay Introduction

Importance of Clothing in King Lear Essays

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Importance of Clothing in King Lear


     Nakedness and dress in Shakespeare's King Lear, represented the status of a

character. Many scenes use clothing to show one characters dominance over

another.  The more opulent the clothing, the higher the status, or the lack of

clothing, the lower the status.   A few characters go through many wardrobes.

Lear and Edgar, both start the beginning of the play wearing expensive,

luxurious clothing, but each at different times wear less glorious clothing or

even no clothing at all.


     Lear who is the most powerful and authoritive character in the beginning of

the play, is also the best outfitted.  Lear during the…show more content…


     Edgar, legitimate son to the Earl of Gloucester, is well dressed, not as

much as Lear, but still above commoners.  Edgar is believed to be plotting to

annihilate his own father.  So every one is after someone named "Edgar", who is

a well dressed noble.  In order to protect himself, Edgar becomes no one.  He

becomes nobody by shedding his noble garments, and disguises himself by, "My

face I'll grime with filth,/ Blanket my loins, elf all my hair in knots,/ And

with presented nakedness outface..."  Now Edgar is nobody, and there is nobody

looking for nobody.


     Edgar, wanting revenge on his bother, must take the status of somebody, so

he becomes a lunatic.  Still needing protection, but also needing to be somebody,

Edgar chooses a person near nobody.  The person he chooses is given in the line,

" Poor Turlygod! poor Tom!/  That's something yet! Edgar I nothing am."  Edgar

becomes Tom of Bedlam, an insane lunatic.  Now that Edgar is somebody, he can

once again mingle with the other characters in the play.  His first meeting with

another character as Tom, is Lear, who is reaching madness himself.  By both

Lear and Edgar being naked at the same time allows Edgar to

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Free King Lear Essays: The Element of Disguise

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King Lear - The Element of Disguise


The play “King Lear” is, first of all, a play about kingship.  Lear is a trusting king, every inch a king, who in his old age brings destruction to himself, certain persons in his own circle, and to his country.  “King Lear” is a play which tears off the outer coverings of human character.  Pious and innocent-seeming people who are villainous, are revealed in their true nature, and the similar is disclosed for what it is, as it works destruction.  This is done in a world in which most men are constantly seeking their own advancement, a court where flatterers are always lurking, and in which a king should be constantly wary and careful to follow the advice of such honest men as Kent.


    Within the first two acts of “King Lear”, the element of disguise is established.  The king's two daughters, Regan and Goneril, use flattery as a disguise.  They conceal their true feelings, conspiring to take over the land.  Goneril says:


 Sir, I love you more than word can weild the matter;

 Dearer then eyesight, space, and liberty; . . . Beyond all

 manner of so much I love you. (II 56-63)


Regan speaks:


 I am made of the same metal as my sister,

 And prize me at her worth.  In my true heart

 I find she names my very deed of love,

 Only she comes too short, that I profess

 Myself and enemy to all other joys

 Which the most precious square of sense possesses,

 And find I am alone felicitate

 In your dear Highness' love. (II72-80)


    Clearly, the daughters’ words are loaded with flattery.  The third daughter, Cordelia, cannot wear the mask that the other two wear, "I love your Majesty According to my bond, no more nor less." (II 97-98)  It is for this reason that Cordeila is banished from the kingdom.


    An obvious example of disguise is with the Earl of Kent, as he enters the play as Tom of Bedlam.  Even though he was exiled from the kingdom, he has returned to protect Lear.  His great loyalty to the king, forces Kent to risk his life in order to deceive Lear.


 Lear : What art thou?

 Kent : A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.

        (I, IV, 18-20)

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Element         King Lear         True Feelings         True Nature         Wear         Goneril         Old Age         Flattery         Villainous        


    A disguise normally is associated with covering up, leaving a very superficial character but in the case with Kent, this is not so.  Kent is still as loyal as he ever was, and it is clear from this scene that Kent will fight for Lear until his death.


    The element of disguise was used extensively within the first two scenes.  It shows how Regan and Goneril used this factor to deceive Lear, and it showed how Kent used it to help the king.



Comments by the editor:

  There is plenty of evidence and reflection within the piece, making it very though provoking about Lear. 

  However, there are some structural problems that hurt the paper. 

  First of all, we need to work on transitions.  An example of a poor transition is: it goes from the flattering sisters directly to Cordella's banishment in merely a few sentences, when Cordella's being an unmasked person within the play is important, and it needs to be stressed more, not just make it a passing fancy.  

  The part about Kent is nice, but you must work on spicing these paragraphs up, using the evidence not to portray one point, but several.

  The conclusion must be looked at.  It just says in these two scenes extensively.  This conclusion just ends things suddenly and very abruptly.  I would like to see some reflection and recapping of information, which would make the end of the essay much more effective.



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