One of the most memorable and affecting Shakespearean characters is Edgar in King Lear. He has long been celebrated for his faithfulness in the face of his father's rejection, and the scene in which he saves his blinded father from suicide is regarded as one of the most moving in all of Shakespeare. In Poor Tom, Simon Palfrey asks us to rethink all those received ideas - and thus to experience King Lear as never before. He argues that Edgar is Shakespeare's most radical experiment in characterization - and also his most exhaustive model of both human and theatrical possibility. The key to the Edgar character is that he spends most of the play disguised, much of it as "Poor Tom of Bedlam," and his disguises come to uncanny life. The Edgar-role is always more than one person; it animates multitudes, past and present and future, and gives life to states of being beyond the normal reach of the senses-undead, or not-yet, or ghostly, or possible rather than actual. And because the Edgar - role both connects and retunes all of the figures and scenes in the play, a close attention to this particular part can shine new light on how the whole play works. The ultimate message of Palfrey's bravura analysis is the same for readers or actors or audiences as it is for the characters in the play: see and listen feelingly; pay attention, especially when it seems as though there is nothing there.