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 reflection rejects the concept of the Great Chain of Being as well as Lear's statement about the influence astrology has over the actions of man: "By all the operation of the orbs / From whom we do exist and cease to be" (Shakespeare I, i, 123-124). Throughout the play, Edmund rejects the Great Chain of Being as well as the idea that the stars control the fate of man because both principles state that he is less important than those around him simply because he was born a bastard, a fate that he could not help. However, he makes an astute observation on the nature of man; when presented with the opportunity, humans are more likely to blame someone or something else on their own faults instead of accepting their flaws. Likewise, both Lear and Gloucester count on the stars to provide an excuse for their children's actions because they believed that for no reason should the Great Chain be broken; that would be impossible, for a child to rebel against his or her parent. Conversely, Edmund denies the influence of these astrological signs and acknowledges that man is ultimately responsible for his actions; to Edmund, those who would blame their actions on the heavens are but witless, spineless fools.
Ironically, Gloucester can only see his error when he cannot see the world around him. When Gloucester has his eyes plucked out and suffers permanent blindness, he laments, “O my follies! Then Edgar was abused./ Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!” (III,vii,92-93). His physical and emotional suffering makes him see the truth that Edmund is the son that never loved him, and the loyal son is the banished Edgar. Since Gloucester cannot express penitence to his loving son, he instead relies on divine powers for forgiveness and Edgar’s prosperity. In his troubled mind, Gloucester formed the idea that the only path the gods have given him for atonement is suicide. He attempts this by throwing himself off a cliff. After believing that he survived the fall, he says, “I do remember now. Henceforth I’ll bear/ Affliction till it do cry out itself,/ “Enough, enough,” and die” (IV,vi,75-77). Gloucester believes that he is alive because of a miracle from the angels. He comes to the conclusion that if they want him to live and persevere, then he must do so and only die when allowed. Gloucester must obey the heavens because only the gods can bring his salvation and Edgar’s well-being. Gloucester’s duty sees results, as he is able to receive Edgar’s love and the fulfillment of
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 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.
Edmund is the most methodical in his deceptions. Both he and his brother seem oddly adept at trickery, but Edmund fooled his brother and his father. First he forges a letter to turn Gloucester against Edgar. Then he convinces Edgar to leave, which will only make the legitimate son look guilty. He tells him that he has read the stars and that Edgar should flee. While Edmund does not believe astrology works, he is very intelligent and knows that he can use it to his advantage. He uses this to maintain his visage of innocence. Continuing the charade, he convinces his father to
Gloucester is exactly like Lear in the sense that Lear picked the wrong to disown and turn away from. Edmund, Gloucester’s son who had been gone for 9 years, was extremely jealous of his brother Edgar. Edmund then lies and manipulates both Edgar and Gloucester by telling Gloucester that Edgar is plotting against him and wants to kill him. This then causes Gloucester to become exceedingly angry and sent Edmund out to bring Edgar back to him (Lear 1.2.105). In comparison with that story King Lear turned away from his one daughter, Cordelia, who truly cared for him only because she would not confess her love for him. While his other two daughters, Regan and Goneril, were trying to kill Lear off and take his money and power (Lear 1.1.90-95).
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.
In these situations, the cast confronts instances of betrayal and eventually self-growth. The story initiates with King Lear’s urgency for flattery, which drives him to commit a decision that instigated the power-hungry course of his daughters. The betrayal of Goneril and Regan caused Lear to separate from his man-made principles and praise those of nature. Besides the change in Lear, the audience also observed Gloucester’s position concerning the legitimacy of his two sons. Societal views were a detriment regarding the rights of illegitimate children, like Edmund. Seeing his brother Edgar conquer all his father’s treasures, Edmund left his praise of nature behind and instead exploited the reliance of status and relationships in his royal family to overcome the laws of society, forming a great deception against his own family.
Cordelia had to have her own life unjustly taken away from her; as a consequence of her father’s shallow and poor judgment; her death brought him to that moment of clarity, where he knew; it was his decisions, as well as his ignorance caused by his destructive appetite for fortune. Lear died in agony and heart break; a full circle where he once was before. Lear the fool, went through the journey of the wheel and had an excruciating death; on behalf of his poor assessment of love. Cordelia knew that her actions spoken loader than her words; that was the reason why she sacrificed her life; in order to try help redeem her father’s spirt.
King Lear poses many questions to its audience. Shakespeare’s conventions throughout the story hold true to the plot until Albany’s speech is interrupted by Lear’s rambling words. Upon closer examination however, it is obvious that the play’s writer meant to violate some of the conventions which he set earlier in the story through the crazed king's words. The character’s verses can be interpreted several ways, showing a different side of the conventions which Shakespeare sets. Focusing on the particular scene shows an underlying theme concerning the human race. His writing leaves the audience with a question about the story’s true meaning.
The Earl of Gloucester, a father with one good and one evil son, parallels to King Lear and his daughters. Gloucester is depicted as a foolish old man, unable to see through Edmund's lies. By mistaking Edmund's motives, Gloucester is blind to the events occurring around him, even before Cornwall blinds him. It is obvious he is not intuitive or quick enough to understand the plotting going on around him. He constantly blames events on the stars, and thus, he absolves himself of any responsibility for his own actions.
Of the deaths in Shakespeare’s King Lear, the death of Cordelia and King Lear at the end of Act V are most significant in revealing the development of Lear and how his development contributes to the theme surrounding it. The dynamic King Lear is a tragic hero whose fatal flaw, arrogance, prompts his removal from power and eventually the death of both himself and Cordelia. However, by the time of King Lear’s death, his arrogance has been replaced with a compassion which allows him to mourn the death of Cordelia and die from his own grief. Besides redeeming himself for his flawed judgement, the compassionate King Lear of Act V recognizes the loyalty in characters like Kent and Cordelia, while also seeing through the dishonesty of Regan and Goneril which fools the King Lear of Act I. King Lear’s transition from disowning Cordelia because of his arrogance to recognizing her as his only faithful daughter is demonstrated through Lear’s death, which serves as the culmination of his development and a reversal of his character. Furthermore, his death elaborates the theme of how someone’s arrogance may blind them from the reality of others’ intentions, which can be seen through a more compassionate and humble lens.
Although Cordelia appears in Act I, Scene I and disappears until Act IV, she has an enormous impact on the play as a whole. It is generally acknowledged that the role played by Cordelia in King Lear is a symbolic one. She is a symbol of good amidst the evil characters within the play. Since the play is about values which have been corrupted and must be restored, it is not surprising that the figure who directs the action must be embodiment of those values which are in jeopardy – love, truth, pity, honour, courage and forgiveness. Cordelia’s reply does not initiate the tragedy; Lear’s misguided question does that. Her “nothing” sets her father’s tragic journey in motion. There is nothing wrong with her remarks.
Like Lear, Gloucester fails to see the true nature of his children and also invokes the language of nature in blind ways. After wrongly condemning Edgar he calls Edmund a "loyal and natural boy" (II. i. 85).