The lot of a madman is to be useless. Since his conclusions are not sound though they dictate his life they stunt his growth. Madnesses in this sense is infectivity, to run in circles valid in one’s argument and be hopeless. We see the madman as him who exists in a fantasy world of his own creation, rejecting reality in favor of his own world.
The subconscious error that people commit when they read this definition is that they assume that this kind of fantasy is ludacris and unrelatable. But no such caveat exists in the actual definition. Madness is far more subtle and insidious.
King Lear’s fantasy is in someway relatable his intense need for validation, his unhealthy family structure, his inability to discern those who truly love him from those who do not. His fantasy thinking is selfishness, narcissism, and the inability to admit his own flaws. This is not foaming at the mouth, strachting on walls yet it is still mad.
His view of himself and his place in the minds and hearts of others is a fabrication, yet it dictates all his actions. He is mad, yet What then are we to conclude. Humanity is mad. No man sees the world as it is. How can he when every person’s experiences and personality are so unique yet touched by depravity. This is not the kind of disease that can be institutionalized because all are infected. The general idea of Madness in Shakespeare is meant to be portrayed as a mental condition but as the mental state of man heighted for theatrical purposes. Shakespeare characters all have a touch of madness.
To be mad is to be human and to bear the burden of human nature. If madness can be defined as not seeing the world as it truly is then The madness is shakespeare is not pathological, it is typical. All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts,The madman’s explanation of a thing is always complete, and often in a purely rational sense satisfactory.
Or, to speak more strictly, the insane explanation, if not conclusive, is at least unanswerable; this may be observed especially in the two or three commonest kinds of madness. If a man says (for instance) that men have a conspiracy against him, you cannot dispute it except by saying that all the men deny that they are conspirators; which is exactly what conspirators would do. His explanation covers the facts as much as yours… Nevertheless he is wrong. But if we attempt to trace his error in exact terms, we shall not find it quite so easy as we had supposed. Perhaps the nearest we can get to expressing it is to say this: that his mind moves in a perfect but narrow circle. A small circle is quite as infinite as a large circle; but, though it is quite as infinite, it is not so large.
In the same way the insane explanation is quite as complete as the sane one, but it is not so large. A bullet is quite as round as the world, but it is not the world. There is such a thing as a narrow universality; there is such a thing as a small and cramped eternity; you may see it in many modern religions.
Now, speaking quite externally and empirically, we may say that the strongest and most unmistakable MARK of madness is this combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contraction. The lunatic’s theory explains a large number of things, but it does not explain them in a large way…Or it might be the third case, of the madman who called himself Christ. If we said what we felt, we should say, “So you are the Creator and Redeemer of the world: but what a small world it must be! What a little heaven you must inhabit, with angels no bigger than butterflies! How sad it must be to be God; and an inadequate God! Is there really no life fuller and no love more marvellous than yours; and is it really in your small and painful pity that all flesh must put its faith? How much happier you would be, how much more of you there would be, if the hammer of a higher God could smash your small cosmos, scattering the stars like spangles, and leave you in the open, free like other men to look up as well as down!” “O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!”Madness is an ill defined term that is a synonym for a persuasive aspect of human nature, egotism.He is wordy without reason, ridiculously passionate where rationality is most needed, and mocked by his fool because he, in reality, is the foolish one for attempting to maintain his false exterior. By the time he dies in Act V, Lear is stripped, humbled, and crazy…yet he is finally redeemed, forgiven by his audience for his misjudgments because he has become true to himself.