Every inch a king
The trick of that voice I do well remember;
Is't not the King?
Ay, every inch a king!
"Every inch a king" is ironically taken at face value nowadays,
without the bitter incongruity of the original context. As the
blinded and spurned Duke of Gloucester encounters the ragged and
spurned King Lear, the two men stage a pathetic reunion.
[See MORE SINNED AGAINST THAN SINNING and AS FLIES TO WANTON BOYS ARE WE TO THE GODS.] Gloucester, able to recognize Lear only
by his voice, cannot see that Lear has crowned himself with weeds.
Lear, insane, has regressed into delusions of omnipotence. When
Lear madly declares himself "every inch a king," he states what may
be factually accurate, but what is in dramatic terms a lie. We have
watched the king slowly degenerate after being stripped of power
and dignity by his wicked daughters, and we have heard Lear himself
denigrate the pomp of kingship.