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ACT II, Scene 3

This short scene serves as a transition while Lear is traveling
toward Gloucester Castle. Edgar enters and delivers a soliloquy
about his present plight. Since he has been declared an outlaw by
his father, he must hide from his pursuers. He decides to disguise
himself as a poor beggar named Tom in order to protect himself
from recognition. Edgar describes his disguise in detail and then


Edgar's disguise as a poor, naked wretch is a foreshadowing of
Lear's future exile and madness. His description of beggars
highlights the belief that many of the poor are possessed by spirits
and therefore, are numb to pain. Edgar, however, is not numb. He
feels miserable and admits, "Edgar I nothing am." Condemned as
an outlaw and disinherited by his own father, Edgar feels useless;
he thinks he is no more than a shadow of his former self.