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Act 4, Scene 1 Notes from King Lear

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King Lear Act 4, Scene 1

Edgar kicks off the scene still in disguise. He is quick to note that he is the lowest form of life at this juncture.

Gloucester, now blind, stumbles onto the stage. He tries to dismiss his servant, but the servant reminds him that he has no eyes and will not be able to see anything.

Gloucester's reply is a beautiful bit of irony: "I have no way, and therefore want no eyes;/ I stumbled when I saw." Act 4, Scene 1, lines 18-19

Edgar sees his father for the first time in a while, and discovers his father's compromised condition. He realizes that his own life is indeed NOT the "worst." There is always something lower.

Topic Tracking: Age 14
Topic Tracking: Vision and Blindness 8

"O gods! Who is't can say 'I am the worst'?
I am worse than e'er I was...
And worse I may be yet: the worst is not
So long as we can say 'This is the worst.'"
Act 4, Scene 1, lines 23-27

Gloucester recognizes the madman's voice. He says it reminds him of his son's voice. But Gloucester doesn't know yet that the madman really is his son. He thinks he is just making an observation. Gloucester is pessimistic about life in general now, saying: "As flies to wanton boys, are we to th' gods, They kill us for their sport" (lines 36-37). Gloucester bemoans his fate, noting that Fortune's wheel is never standing still.

Edgar and his father are alone now. Gloucester dismissed the servant, knowing now that he will be forced to rely on the beggar for vision. He is relying on his son. In exchange he will give the beggar clothes and cleanliness. Gloucester hands over his wallet. He then asks the beggar if he knows how to find the Dover coast. The beggar, Edgar, says yes. There, Gloucester says, is where he will no longer need a shoulder to lean on. In the meantime, though, Edgar is serving a very important role, supporting his father, even though through a disguise.

Topic Tracking: The Natural Order 12

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