Do you get a sense of there being an "animal man" after reading the play?An "animal man" that goes against laws and bonds.

1 Answer | Add Yours

pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The only evidence of an animal man in the play might be the character of Edgar when he plays Poor Tom and the fact that King Lear, himself, experiences a sense of madness in the play when he is cast out by his daughters into the raging storm.  He does walk into the violent weather and seemingly becomes one with the destructive forces of nature devoid of care as to whether he survives or not.  He is emotionally distraught and his emotion is illustrated by the violence of the storm.

But Edgar, in disguise, appears to be a man who lives like an animal.   

"Edg. Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog;
the toad, the tadpole, the wall-newt, and the
water; that in the fury of his heart, when
the foul fiend rages, eats cow-dung for sallets;
swallows the old rat and the ditch-dog; drinks
the green mantle of the standing pool; who is
whipped from tithing to tithing, and stock-
punished, and imprisoned; who hath had three
suits to his back, six shirts to his body, horse to
ride, and weapon to wear;
But mice and rats and such small deer
Have been Tom's food for seven long year.
Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin! peace,
thou fiend." (Shakespeare)

Edgar is forced into hiding when his brother, Edmund, frames him with the rumor that he is trying to kill his father so he can get his inheritance.  Edgar assumes the identity of the beggar man, or homeless man, Poor Tom, who is invisible in this society, like all beggar people in this time period.  Meaning people don't really notice them or pay attention to them, even though they are there. 

Poor Tom, or Edgar, must prove that he is a loyal son to his father, but he has to break his bond with his family to do. He fools his now blind father into believing that he has fallen off a cliff and then rescues him.  Edgar has to break the laws of reality in order to clear his name and save his father from Edmund, who has no regard for the law, civil, moral or otherwise.

"Edmund, the bastard son of Gloucester and half-brother to Edgar, commits a number of villainous acts throughout the course of the play"



We’ve answered 317,671 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question