Edmund Gloucester Character Analysis William Shakespeare’s King Lear is a tragic play about two fathers, King Lear and Gloucester, who are both growing old and in there old age they are taken over and punished by the very children they have raised. One of the main antagonists in the story, Edmund, is Gloucester’s younger bastard son. In the story Edmund, who wants his brother Edgar’s inheritance, devises a plan to pit his father and brother against one another in order to benefit himself. He then begins an ambitious rise to power filled with cunning, cruelty, betrayal, lust, and conflicting interests and emotions. Edmund with his Machiavellian, ruthlessly power hungry, and complex character is one of Shakespeare’s most iconic …show more content…
To thy law My services are bound” (Shakespeare 1.2.1-2). Edmund then writes a fake letter deceiving his father into believing that Edgar is plotting to kill him while simultaneously, deceiving his brother into running away from home and staging a fake fight that makes him look like a savior to both his father and his brother, who don’t even suspect a thing. From very early on Edmund demonstrates that he is a master manipulator who can execute not only premeditated plans with ease but also quick witted improvisations as well. Edmund (also) doesn’t mind lying and is very skilled at it, able to string convincing lies together in rapid succession, while evoking convincing emotion to make his deceptions all the more believable. His effectively cold calculations are nothing short of brilliant. In one fell swoop he has managed not only to get his brother’s inheritance, but also to banish his brother, and win the trust and loyalty of his father. But even this will not be enough to satisfy Edmund on his ambitious climb to the very pinnacles of power. In the middle of the play Gloucester decides to help Lear which his daughters and Cornwall have strictly forbidden, but he needs someone to distract Cornwall, so he tells Edmund that he is going to help Lear and also tells him
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The power that makes Edmund corrupt is trust. He uses the trust to manipulate and control his father for the benefit of himself. He frames his brother by composing a false letter to his father implicating a plot to kill Gloucester, that when “our father would sleep till I waked him, you should enjoy half his revenue forever.” (1, 2, 55-56) Gloucester replies with “this villain of mine comes under the prediction of mine: there’s son against father” (1, 2, 112-117) This shows that Gloucester had great faith and trust in his son Edgar. To better his plan he goes to Edgar and convinces him to run away. The thought that he would frame his own brother for the chance to gain power shows his corruption, and that he will do anything to have more power. Edmund writes another letter, except this implicates his father in a plot with France to kill The Duke of Cornwall. He does this so that “the younger rises [and] the old doth fall” (3, 4, 25) and he will become the Earl. Edmund is so corrupted and blinded by his quest for power that he is willing to jeopardize his father’s
He also tells Edgar that Cornwall is not pleased with him over a dispute between Albany and Cornwall that Edgar knows nothing about. He then urges Edgar to flee just before he lies to Gloucester about Edgar’s intent. Gloucester, believing Edmund’s lies condemns Edgar to death and promises Edmund his lordship. Edmund, having disposed of his brother and securing his eventual reward sees an opportunity to acquire his land and status a little more swiftly. When Gloucester flees to help Lear he entrusts Edmund with ensuring Cornwall does not discover Gloucester’s plans and the location of letter regarding an imminent French invasion. Edmund immediately betrays his father and shows Cornwall the letter, making him believe Gloucester is working for the French. Gloucester is soon after discovered and brought before Cornwall and Reagan. While Gloucester is being blinded by Cornwall, Edmund is busy courting Goneril outside of her palace. Edmund decides to double his chances of becoming King by courting Reagan as well. Edmund’s final act of treachery occurs when he gives orders to the Captain to hang Lear and Cordelia. He lies even in his dying breath as he stalls in order to ensure the death of Cordelia: “Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send-/ Be brief in it - to th’ castle, for my writ/ Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia./ Nay, send in time.” (Shakespeare 5.3.292-295) Edmund’s actions led
In King Lear, the subplot of Gloucester corresponds to the major plot of King Lear. Both fathers have their own loyal legitimate child and their evil and disloyal child. They are both honourable men, who have children that return to them in their time of need. Gloucester and Lear are both tormented, and their
Upon hearing this, Edmund presents himself as sympathetic and supportive towards Gloucester. After his father leaves, Edmund reveals to the reader his true intentions of betraying his father and taking his title. This abrupt transformation of attitude and objective is part of the theme of “Appearance vs Reality.” Although he appears to be loyal and innocent to Gloucester, the reality is that he is planning to overthrow Gloucester and is apathetic towards his
In the play King Lear, the two characters Gloucester and King Lear, both run on very parallel paths. the turning point in the play where the reader starts to feel sorry for them is as soon as things start to go bad for them. Early in the play, Lear makes bad decisions on which daughters to give his land and power to, while Gloucester is making Edmund feel bad for being a bastard. Their decisions blow up in their faces and the reader starts to feel bad for them. King Lear is driven to madness and Gloucester has his eyes gouged out and want to kill himself. The impressions on both of these characters change throughout the course of the play in the same way.
King Lear is understandably one of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, it encompasses the journey through suffering and explores, in detail, the idea of justice. Each character in the play experience s one or the other throughout the progression of the plot, it is evident that through compositional features such as these, the play write is trying to convey this meaning. Through methods such as intense imagery, motifs, repetition of words and rhyming the play write has given intensity to certain passages, speeches and conversations. Shakespeare, through the use of character development, unravels the way in which humanity responds to injustice, the character relationships, specifically character foils, give rise to a number of notions
Starting the play with the revelation of Edmund’s plans to see his half brother and father’s downfall, we receive an image of a father who cares only for pure bloods of higher class per say. One can conclude that this man is obviously high class and stereo typically favors the older, direct bloodline son, nevertheless, we can’t take a rash conclusion so fast. Thus, we wait for the plot to develop and let us glance into the true selves of the characters further. We come to the knowledge that Lord Gloucester realizes he values his ties with the king to a great extent, him risking and losing his title as lord due to aiding King Lear. Afterwards, we see him come to appreciation of virtues of honesty and his sons after he is captured by the Duke, losing his eyes as punishment. Gloucester as a character has developed greatly, going forth through challenges and misdemeanors against his pride and being, ending disgraced and blind. Yet, he holds a calm sense to himself, valuing what he has left and becoming more than humble with others. This is a transformation worthy of Shakespeare himself, rather impressive at the very least. This man has lived through the betrayal of his bastard child and being blinded violently for helping a distressed king, he has sacrificed much with spiritual values in return. Astounding that he didn’t suicide out of pure remorse that he will never be able to witness the world again. Unfortunately, he does die of a mixture of happiness and shock when he is revealed that Edgar still breathes life, so he has that going for
William Shakespeare’s King Lear is the tragic story of a king’s descent from power as the life that he had once had crumbles before him. It is a story that relies heavily on the relationships between its characters and how they change. Lear is slowly driven insane throughout the course of the play as he unintentionally rids himself of the positive relationships while relying upon negative ones. However, it is Margot Heinemann’s argument that the play not only relies on interpersonal drama, but also the politics of England in her essay, “‘Demystifying the Mystery of the State’: King Lear and the World Upside Down”. In her essay, Heinemann provides an in depth analysis of how the politics of England when the play takes place, and also when the
In King Lear, Gloucester is initially reliant on his perception of reality. When Edmund, Gloucester’s illegitimate son, divulges Edgar’s alleged assassination plot, Gloucester easily believes the lie, declaring his legitimate son an “abhorred villain, unnatural [and] detested” although it is Edgar that cares for his father most (I.ii.81). By casting out Edgar and refusing to reevaluate Edmund’s character, Gloucester faces harsh consequences, including the Duke of Cornwall plucking out his eyes. In a state of utter helplessness, Gloucester pleas for Edmund to come and “quit this horrid act,” which Cornwall scorns by revealing Edmund’s betrayal (III.vii.88). Gloucester’s literal blindness allows him to realize Edmund’s true intentions and Edgar’s true devotion. Gloucester is blinded when he relies on sight, and cannot see clearly until he trusts less in appearances and relies on sound, unclouded judgement.
When the reader turns their focus to Gloucester, they can immediately see the view he holds over both of his sons. As he speaks to Kent about Edmund, the reader learns that Gloucester has had to explain his unfortunate relation to him so many times now that he is no longer embarrassed by it, but, “brazen to it“ (I.i). Then in the next lines, Gloucester goes on to say that his real son Edgar is “no dearer in my account” (I.i). Thus, even though Edgar is legitimate and Edmund is a ‘bastard child,’ Gloucester doesn’t seem to be very interested in either of them. This self-interest allows Edmund to play to Gloucester’s own interests and fears with ease. It allows Edmund to have his father turn his back on his son without so much as a second thought.
The sin of greed is perfectly exemplified in the character of Edmund. Throughout the play Edmund’s greed is the motivating factor behind all of the decisions that he makes. Edmund, as the illegitimate son of Gloucester plots against his brother in order to obtain his inheritance completely ignoring all familial responsibility in the pursuit of land and money. At the beginning of the play you see that he merely wants to take his brother’s inheritance but as greed gets the better of him he begins to plot against
Unlike King Lear, Edmund has no power at the beginning of the play. Being Gloucester’s youngest and illegitimate son he is not accepted by society or his father. Gloucester says in front of Edgar, “His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge / I have so often blushed to acknowledge him that now I am brazed to it” (1.1.8-9). Edgar, Edmund’s older brother will inherit their father's wealth, land, and title. Knowing this Edmund’s hunger for power has probably grown through the years, giving him the motivation to act the way he did. In 1.2 Edmund tells the audience that he’s going to con
Edmund’s frustration at the treatment of illegitimate children was present from the start of the play, as he exclaimed: “Why ‘bastard’?/ [..] When my mind as generous and my shape as true / As honest madam’s issue?” (I ii 6-7). He considered himself an
In Act one, scene one, we are introduced to Gloucester and his parallel plot line before we introduced to Lear. We find Gloucester acknowledging his equal adoration between his two sons, the one legitimate, the other illegitimate. The moral code that informs King Lear dictates that illegitimacy bodes nothing but a disadvantage to the harmony of underlying order . Within the terms of the play, Gloucester's emotion is a fatal flaw of judgment. Paying close attention to language, Gloucester's unwitting mistake from Edmund's very first appearance; in a world where the only vocabulary of each character is a full expression of their position on the axis of good and evil, a reader cannot help but notice that Edmund's "... I shall study deserving..."(I.i.24) is a foreboding of the deceit and greed that will taint him for the rest of the play.