| Quote #4
[…] With my two daughters' dowers digest this third:
Hmm. If King Lear is so intent on retirement, why in the world does he need one "hundred knights" to follow him around? It seems that Lear wants to retain a lot of power and authority but doesn't want all the hassles and responsibility of being an active ruler.
| Quote #5
[…] ever since thou madest thy
Lear's Fool (Lear's personal comedian) seems pretty smart when he points out that Lear's daughters became more like his "mother" when Lear gave up his power and his kingdom to them. The Fool notes that Lear might as well have pulled down his "breeches" (pants) and given his daughters a "rod" to spank him with. By abdicating his kingdom to his daughters, Lear has not only given up his adult authority, he has deprived himself of all power. We talk about this in "Family" too, so check it out if you want to think about how Lear's poor political choices resonate in his family relationships.
| Quote #6
King Lear can hardly believe his daughter's insolence after she insults him by complaining about his retinue of 100 rowdy knights. (Having enjoyed the power and authority of kingship for so long, Lear isn't used to being treated shabbily by his subjects or his children.) Here, an incredulous Lear asks, "Who is it that can tell me who I am?" This question suggests that Lear doesn't quite know how to define himself now that he's lost all the power that comes with active kingship. In other words, Lear's retirement results in a kind of identity crisis.
The Fool's response is equally interesting. We can read the Fool's answer ("Lear's shadow") in a couple of ways. On the one hand, it could mean that the Fool, who is thought of as Lear's shadow (he follows or shadows Lear around the countryside) is the person who can tell Lear who he is. The Fool, after all, is the only person who ever tells it like it is and he knows Lear pretty well. Alternatively, we can read the line thus: Lear is nothing but a shadow, which suggests that Lear is merely a shadow of his former self. In other words, the Fool is saying that Lear (whose status has changed since retirement) is nothing without his former power and title.