* Site-Outage Notice: Our engineering elves will be tweaking the Shmoop site from Monday, December 22 10:00 PM PST to Tuesday, December 23 5:00 AM PST. The site will be unavailable during this time.
Dismiss
© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
King Lear

King Lear

King Lear Act 2, Scene 3 Summary

  • Meanwhile, Fortune has not been kind to Edgar, who has survived the manhunt by hiding in a tree.
  • Desperate to escape, he decides to disguise himself as "Poor Tom," an inmate of Bedlam hospital and the kind of guy who roams about the country "roaring" like a madman, driving sharp objects into the flesh of his arms, and begging for charity from his cruel and abusive countrymen.
  • History Snack: By the time Shakespeare wrote King Lear, Bedlam (a.k.a. Bethlehem Hospital) was an asylum notorious for its appalling conditions and brutal treatment of its patients, some of whom were given licenses to beg outside the hospital.
  • Edgar strips himself down to the skin with only a "blanket" to cover his "loins," ties his hair in knots, and smears his face with mud so that he cannot be recognized. "Edgar I nothing am" he announces, meaning 1) He's no longer Edgar and 2) He is nothing.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement
Noodle's College Search
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement