Edgar in Act IV scene 1 has suffered a tremendous reversal in fortune. He has gone from being the favoured son of a member of the English aristocracy to finding himself expelled and exiled, and forced to disguise himself as a beggar who is openly scorned and rejected by those around him. In this, his fate mirrors that of both his father and of King Lear himself, who move very swiftly in the play from high society to being scorned and derided. Yet, as he describes in Act IV scene 1, he is very happy for the change:
Yet better thus, and known to be contemned,Than still contemned and flattered. To be worst,The lowest and most dejected thing of fortuneStands still in esperance, lives not in fear.The lamentable change is from the best;The worst returns to laughter. Welcome, then,Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace!The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worstOwes nothing to thy blasts.