As I watched the king slowly come undone, I did wonder, fleetingly, whether Lear’s madness, at least in the opening acts, is somewhat calculated. He’s a narcissist, of course — but the man is not without cunning.
Thus raising the question: Is the king crazy like a fox? Or just crazy, like on Fox?
Soon enough, though, the madness is no ruse. There’s the king, wandering around the heath half-naked with his Hannity. Before you know it, everyone is murdering everyone else, and the French are revolting (sic), and the duke of Gloucester has had his eyes gouged out.
“Vile jelly,” I believe is the exact quote, also reminding me of an experience I once had at a late-night diner in King of Prussia, Pa.
At this point, I hit pause and checked back with the State of the Union, wondering whether I’d made a bad choice.
“If there is going to be peace and legislation,” said the president, “there cannot be war and investigation!”
Yeah, back to Britain. By now the king was at the center of a terrible storm, surrounded by madmen. Looking at his subjects, it occurs to Lear that his people are wretched. Why, he wonders, did he not try to care for them when he had the chance?
Why, indeed. “They told me I was everything,” he says, understanding, too late, that his own narcissism has been the catalyst for his country’s ruin. “Tis a lie.”