In terms of power, Lear becomes the complete opposite of what he is in Act One by the end of Act Two. The fool says, “Now thou art an O without/ a figure. I am better than thou art now: I am a Fool, thou/ art nothing” (I. iv. 197-199). As the play progresses, the Fool points out that King Lear has become nothing. Misjudgment, betrayal and becoming “nothing” (I. iv. 199) leads King Lear into near madness by the end of Act Two. King Lear is very oblivious in the beginning of the play. His demanding personality reveals to the audience that he is blind to the truth.
By asking his daughters, “Which of you shall we say doth love us most” (I. i. 53), it shows a vulnerable side of him because he craves being worshiped. Lear is more interested in listening to a speech on how wonderful he is, rather than leaving his empire in the hands of someone responsible. His thirst for compliments is so drastic that he even disowns his daughter for not worshiping him, also showing his lack of awareness because she truly loved him. We see Lear as a powerful character that puts himself in front of others in Act One.
King Lear is so used to being treated like royalty that going from the most powerful person in England to virtually nothing in such a small amount of time nearly makes him fall into madness by the end of Act Two. Goneril and Regan are the main cause of this. At first, Lear was oblivious to their daughters plot to rule him out. Lear starts to catch on to this, and for the first time in the play, he is aware. After being abandoned by his daughters, Lear says “O fool, I shall go mad” (2. 4. 281), showing that he realizes the mistake he’s made.
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At this point in the play, the status of King Lear and his daughters have completely shifted. King Lears’ intentions were never evil, but his greedy actions were the cause of his fall. By the end of act 2, Lear gains more insight on what is really going on around him. Other characteristics from Act One still remain, such as his hunger for authority: The king would speak with Cornwall. The dear father Would with his daughter speak, commands, tends service. Are they “informed” of this? My breath and blood! “Fiery”? The “fiery” duke? Tell the hot duke that Lear— (II. iv. 91-96) Later on in the play, Lear says to Regan, “I have a full case of weeping but this heart/Shall break a hundred thousand flaws,/or ere ill weep- O fool, I shall go mad? ”(2. 4. 281-283), at this point of the play, the audience feels pity for Lear. The Lear we see in Act Two is deprived of his powers through lies and evil tricks from Regan and Goneril. This has caused the King to become nothing, in contrast to the greedy and cruel King we see in Act One.
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