The Lear that is presented at the beginning of Shakespeare's play is a man subject to "unruly waywardness" (I.i.298) and "unconstant starts." (I.i.300) He casts off the daughter who is most faithful to him because she refuses to match the exaggerated claims of love that her sisters profess for their father. Similarly, he casts off his most loyal subject, Kent, when he defends Cordelia, whom Kent knows to be true to the King. Ill-used by Regan and Goneril once he has relinquished his power to them, madness overcomes him. He is only restored from this madness when he is re-united with...
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