Concepts of Madness in Literature

The researcher states that when comparing King Lear by William Shakespeare and A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, it can be seen that specific themes remain consistent, allowing the reader to connect with the principles. One of the universal themes that are present in the two stories is based on the idea of madness and what drives a character to move from sanity to a sense of being mad. The characters depict this specific theme in both stories, both which are able to provide a sense of relevance in how madness begins to come into one’s life as well as how it continues to exist over time. The concept of this theme then creates a universal theme that connects the reader to specific philosophies through both stories. In King Lear by Shakespeare, the concept of madness is seen through King Lear. However, other characters display the same madness by showing a desire for death as well as complexities that are a part of their relationship to the king, specifically which begin to unfold as the plotline continues. The beginning display of madness from King Lear starts when he becomes helpless to the events that are taking place on the throne as well as through the desire to give the kingdom to his three daughters. When his wishes are overthrown, he begins to show a different side to his character, specifically which are outside of the main sets of leadership that he has displayed. This is followed by the eventual overthrow of the kingdom, which lead to his desire to stop his children from overtaking the kingdom. For instance, when he is speaking of the way that his daughter has responded to the offer for the kingdom, he states I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad: I will not trouble thee, my child,. farewell: We’ll no more meet, no more see one another: But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter. Or rather a disease that’s in my flesh, Which I must need call mine. This quote shows how the main plot line of taking the righteous steps as a king and for the kingdom leads to the eventual madness of King Lear. Specifically, he moves into a double-minded conflict that shows his love for his daughter on one side as well as the disease that is a part of his family on the other because of the plot line and actions that they take.