King Lear

King Lear


William Shakespeare

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Clothing and Costumes Symbol Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Clothing and Costumes Symbol Icon
Complementing the many references to animals throughout the play are mentions of clothing and instances of disguise. Kent, banished by Lear, disguises himself as the commoner Caius. Edgar, fleeing Gloucester's mistaken wrath, transforms himself the mad beggar, Poor Tom. As the honorable characters of the play must take off their fine clothes and put on disguises to remain loyal, and Lear associates Goneril and Regan's fine clothing with their duplicity, clothing becomes a symbol of the desire for power and status that corrupts characters like Goneril, Regan, Edmund, and Cornwall. On Dover beach Lear remarks to Gloucester: "Through tattered clothes small vices do appear./ Robes and furred gowns hide all" [4.6.181-2].

Clothing and Costumes Quotes in King Lear

The King Lear quotes below all refer to the symbol of Clothing and Costumes. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Act 2, scene 3 Quotes
"I will preserve myself, and am bethought
To take the basest and most poorest shape
That ever penury in contempt of man
Brought near to beast."
Related Characters: Edgar (speaker)
Related Symbols: Animals, Clothing and Costumes
Page Number: 2.3.6-9
Explanation and Analysis:
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