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In King Lear, why did Lear decide to take Caius into his service?

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bobbyroychoud... | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted February 6, 2013 at 9:03 AM via web

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In King Lear, why did Lear decide to take Caius into his service?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 6, 2013 at 4:31 PM (Answer #1)

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"Caius," as he calls himself, first appears in Act I scene 4. Caius is actually the disguised Duke of Kent who, having been banished in Act I scene 1 after telling the truth to his king now disguises himself in order to continue to serve his liege now. Ironically, it is clear right from the very beginning that Caius actually does precisely what Kent did: tell the truth to Lear. However, his disguise and identity as "fool" seems to make the truth and his honesty much more palatable to Lear than his previous honesty when he was speaking as Duke of Kent. Note how Caius responds to Lear's question about what service he can offer:

I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message bluntly. That which ordinary men are fit for, I am qualified in. And the best of me is diligence.
 
It is his ability to "keep honest counsel" above all else that causes Lear to take him into his service. Lear is impressed with the honesty of this figure. An interesting parallel can be drawn between Caius and the Fool, as both are characters who present themselves as foolish in some ways but use that apparent foolishness to speak truth to Lear.

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