Showing posts from April, 2024

'The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman': King Lear and obsessive compulsive disorder

  'King Lear' can appear to be a play of numbers: Lear and his hundred nights, and his one Fool, and his three daughters. But isn't it more the play in which Shakespeare demonstrates most keenly his expertise in the ways of the human mind? In the revelations that strike Lear like lightning bolts after he has rashly divided his kingdom between daughters Goneril and Regan, we see one of a succession of rebirths that the character goes through. Amidst his hyperbolic response to his daughters' ingratitude, Lear is aware of a strain upon his mental wellbeing: 'O Fool! I shall go mad' (II.IV.288). Lear knows that the unexpected and self-inflicted strain he has placed upon himself has the potential to induce a mental breakdown in a man whose will has always held absolute sway in life until this moment of abdication. I feel that 'King Lear' is the culmination of Shakespeare's exploration of how all human beings' lives are subject to fluctuations in our m