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King Lear

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Poor Tom’s “History” (“Wine loved I deeply, dice dearly”)

KINGLR-CUXLRY

In Act 3, Scene 4, King Lear asks Edgar – who is disguised as Poor Tom – “What hast thou been?” Edgar is in a position to make up anything he wants to at this moment, and his response is this:

A serving-man, proud in heart and mind; that curled my hair; wore gloves in my cap; served the lust of my mistress' heart, and did the act of darkness with her; swore as many oaths as I spake words, and broke them in the sweet face of heaven: one that slept in the contriving of lust, and waked to do it: wine loved I deeply, dice dearly: and in woman out-paramoured the Turk: false of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey.

What is the effect of Edgar’s giving Poor Tom such a “villainous” history?

Select ALL that apply.

A

It causes us to question Edgar’s moral character.

B

It encourages us to see how Lear’s daughters’ actions have jaded him, since he is neither surprised nor disgusted by Poor Tom’s personal history.

C

It further develops Lear as a sympathetic character by showing depths to which he has sunk, since men such as this are his present companions.

D

It causes us to question, by virtue of comparison, whether Lear’s daughters are really so evil after all.

E

It exhibits an example of self-understanding – and maybe of self-forgiveness – that we can only hope Lear learns to mimic.