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King Lear Essay on Public Perception and Self-Knowledge?

Closely related is the theme of self-knowledge and appearance or reputation as a definition of the character or person. To be known as honest and moral is as important as to behave honestly and morally. Edgar says as much when he resigns himself to "be" Poor Tom (II, iii, 1-21 [p. 89] & IV, i, 1-9 [p. 131]). But how we perceive ourselves may not be how we are perceived by others. Lear believes himself a great and respected King; Goneril, Regan, and the Fool constantly remind him that he is an old man who has lost his kingdom, his faithful daughter, and his wits through his own folly. Part of this description is found in the relationships of the characters. Just as our parentage defines in part who we are, Lear becomes nothing more than Goneril's father or a shadow of his former self when he relinquishes his kingdom. Shakespeare is posing questions of public perception and self-knowledge. Do these concepts exist in harmony, or do they conflict?This is my topic. My argument is that these concepts conflict. I need at least three examples, I have Edgar and Edmund those were easy, but I can't think of a third. Any information that might help would be great.

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One Response so far.

  1. freleng says:

    DMUNDThis speech of yours hath moved me,And shall perchance do good (5.3.198-200)Thought: Even Edmund, the play’s villain, finds himself moved by pity when his brother Edgar describes the death of their father. As a result, perhaps, Edmund tries to save Lear and Cordelia’s lives.From Shmoop Lit/KingLear Quotes and Thoughts