I'm having trouble analyzing the following quote and linking it to the theme madness in "King Lear"...please help!"howl howl howl! o you are men of stonehad i your tongue and eyes...

I'm having trouble analyzing the following quote and linking it to the theme madness in "King Lear"...please help!

"howl howl howl! o you are men of stone

had i your tongue and eyes I'd use them so

That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone forever

i know when one is dead and when ones alive

shes dead as earth

Expert Answers
pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

King Lear is reacting to Cordelia's death. She has forgiven her father and he regains a measure of peace because of this, accepting his prison sentence with wisdom and courage, "We alone will sing like birds i'th'cage." Having rediscovered "my child Cordelia" and her love, ("Oh my dear father!") he now depends upon her. When she is gone, he cannot grasp this and his  madness returns. Without Cordelia, Lear could not live; thus, her death ends his life and completes the tragedy of the tortured king.

Cordelia is the most appropriate character to cause Lear's death, because her death brings about the most effective destruction of his happiness. Lear, having come through the storm, and having lost the "great rage" that took hold of him throughout the play, has begun to improve again. He is happy in his daughter's care, and his recognition of her love shows his transition from king to man in that he recognises her worth, and the value of her love. When she dies, his world crashes and he is consumed with gief, he goes over the edge, cursing life and demanding to understand how precious Cordelia could be dead. It is incomprehensible to King Lear that others live while the pure Cordelia is dead, his only chance at being whole, sane and happy.