What Made King Lear Go Mad An analysis of the Shakespeare character King Lear: Throughout the Shakespeare play of King Lear the main character, King Lear, transitions through a range of mental / emotional states. #1: SELFISHNESS: King Lear was driven mad by the products of his own selfish nature and desires. He values appearance over reality. He values a positive public display of love over real love.
He wants to be treated as the King and enjoy the title, but doesn't want to fulfill a King's obligations. Lear prefers Goneril's and Regan's fawning, over Cordelia's sincerity. Goneril blames Lear's madness on old age "You see how full of changes his age is" (1. 1 line 290), Regan agrees.
Lear was no doubt driven mad by his eldest daughters when he realizes that though they spoke love, it was untrue. He was shown his foolishness by his own Fool." O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven! / Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!" (2. 1 lines 41-42) Quote: "O Regan, Goneril! / Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all- / O, that way madness lies; let me shun that; / No more of that." (3. 4 lines 20-23). Lear is driven mad by unkindness and insincerity of his daughters. Their actions are what caused Lear to go mad.
#2: AGE: King Lear has opinions of his old age. He is tired and does not feel capable of running the kingdom. So he decides to divide his land and distribute it to his daughters Goneril and Regan. King Lear wants "To shake all cares and business from our age, / conferring them on younger strengths, while we / un burthened crawl toward death" (1.
1 lines 38-39). Lear wants to prepare for the end without the added difficulties of running a kingdom, although it is obvious that he still expects to receive respect from his daughters till his end does come. Otherwise, he would not give his power to them. One distinction may be made of age in this play. Gloucester and Kent are themselves older and belong with Lear in the group of old men. However, as it is seen from many of their actions and the sharper wit they display, they are indeed old men, yet considerably younger at heart than Lear.
There are two distinct groups in relation to King Lear. The first would be the group of characters that have lost their respect for the aging king. Goneril and Regan, the eldest two of Lear's three daughters. Once they get the land and power that they wanted, the two daughters let down the front that they loved their father. Eventually, denying him his entourage and forcing him out in a storm, these two women show their total loss of respect for their aging father.
These women affect many other people's actions within the play, thereby drawing more into the group. For instance, the actions of Oswald and of their husbands Albany and Cornwall are many times affected by the two women.