The Madness of King Lear

Posted November 6, 2017 4:04 am by Steve Roney

The Madness of King Lear

Abbey, King Lear, 1898Freud has offered Shakespeare as one of his authorities on the nature of mental illness. It seems then to be avoiding the evidence if we do not examine Shakespeare’s one play that is most clearly about madness: King Lear. Indeed, Lear has been called “the primary enactment of psychic breakdown in English literary history.”[i] If Shakespeare had some special insight into the nature of insanity, the essence of it would be here, rather than in Hamlet.And it seems right to look to Shakespeare for insight here. His literary talent demonstrates that he was one of the greatest

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