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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 exits.
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.