William Shakespeare was a great English playwright, dramatist and poet who lived during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Macbeth and King Lear are two of his tragedies that exemplify one of his themes he used - madness. Shakespeare has many portraits of madness among his characters, and he returns to the theme again and again. Indirect characterization in the form of Lear's mad speeches allows Shakespeare to convey the theme of madness.
The protagonists of these two plays, Macbeth and King Lear, by means of their actions, thoughts and words reveal a theme to the audience. Shakespeare has many portraits of madness among his characters, and he returns to the theme again and again. Indirect characterization in the form of Lear's mad speeches allows Shakespeare to convey the theme of madness. For example one of Lear's first speeches after wit begin to turn, Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are, That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, How shall your house-hold heads and unfed sides,Your loop'd and window'd rag-gedness, defend you (III.iv.35-38). Lear's insanity in-creases over the course of the play, demonstrated to the audience through more speeches, until his emotions over-throw his reason at the climax of the play. Lear erratic-ally shouts in to the storm, Rumble thy bellyfull! Spit, fire! Spout, rain! Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters. I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness. I never gave you kingdom, called you children(III.ii.14-17). The example of Lear invoking the storm to destroy the seeds of matter along with many other absurd statements il-lustrates that he has an unsound mind and it is made clear to the audience by his words. Shakespeare expands on the theme of madness in King Lear by Lear again using his words to express the reason for his insanity. The cause is the realization that his daughters Goneril and Regan do not love him. One critic explains the cause of Lear's madness, It is the agony of the learning that exposes Lear as an old, rejected man which forces him over the brink of madness(Stuart 172).