Duplicity is a theme which dominates and defines the play King Lear. The rise of the Machiavellian Edmund and the fall of the eponymous tragic hero King Lear are both due to one major aspect of human nature, deception. The tragedy is set in motion by King Lear, who blinded by hubris, attempts to abdicate and retain power. His folly and hubris, allows him to deceive himself into believing the best way to divide the kingdom is to command his daughters to partake in a demeaning love test, where Goneril and Regan feed his ego with more acts of deceit. Edmund employs the same tactic of deception to manipulate his rise to power. He convinces his ‘blind’ father Gloucester into banishing his loyal son Edgar. Deception is also used for good in the play,
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
At the beginning of “King Lear,” an authoritative and willful protagonist dominates his court, making a fateful decision by rewarding his two treacherous daughters and banishing his faithful one in an effort to preserve his own pride. However, it becomes evident during the course of the tragedy that this protagonist, Lear, uses his power only as a means of projecting a persona, which he hides behind as he struggles to maintain confidence in himself. This poses a problem, since the audience is prevented from feeling sympathy for the king. Shakespeare’s ironic solution is to allow Lear’s progressing madness to be paired with his recognition of truth, thereby forcing Lear to shed his persona, and
King Lear is a timeless piece of thought-provoking drama. Shakespeare’s genius has ensured that it continues to resonate with audiences over 400 years after being written. It depicts intriguing aspects of human nature that are still relevant today. These include corruption, deception, and filial strife. Shakespeare also portrays a cast of excellently drawn characters to engage the audience throughout while simultaneously personifying virtue, evil, and hubris. This excellent play which continues to resonate with modern audiences is most spectacular for the fact that it is a beautifully crafted piece of drama throughout.
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.
There is one constant throughout the play, the absence of rank. King Lear is set up in a kingdom-like manner, through which an attitude of respect and honesty is expected from the characters. Yet, to the demise of many of the characters, this expected attitude is only portrayed through a few of them. When this attitude of respect and honesty is not portrayed, it is not looked upon as odd or out of character, it is almost normalized. The king goes mad, Kent breaks a stereotype, Gloucester is naïve nature, Edmund as a master of manipulation, and the fool portraying the most knowledgeable of all.
Edmund considers himself an intrusion within Gloucester’s family, with no true placement, as his father continuously refers to him as a bastard, confirming his inability to inherit what Edgar can. Edmund decides, “Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit;/ All with me’s meet that I can fashion to fit” (1.2.180-181). He desires the recognition denied to him by his status as a bastard, causing him to wonder “why bastard? Wherefore base?” (1.2.5) He is required to accept the conventional laws that refrain him from his rights, due to his illegitimacy. Despite his lower status, he believes to be above all others within the kingdom, as he is a product of the most powerful emotion-love, rather than those produced of duty “within a dull, stale, tired bed” (1.2.13), such as Edgar. Edmund is the only character within this play to envision himself as a victim as well as a villain when he states, "Now, God’s, stand up for the bastards…as if we were villains of necessity” (1.2.22, 2.1.121-122). Edmund’s accumulation of anger and neglect drives his ambition to prove to himself, his father, and the Kingdom that he can be as good
In one of William Shakespeare’s finest works King Lear, use the social status of Lear and Edmund to show their relationship to others in their family and how power or intentions of power affect them.
Shakespeare's Rebellion Thesis: Utilizing the fate of characters in the play King Lear, Shakespeare suggests the absence of divine Justice. Counter Argument - Divine Justice is enacted upon character’s Supporting Argument - Antagonists to the play King Lear meet their deserved ends. Cornwall is slain by his own slave.
Rationale Humans are easily manipulated creatures. The inability to understand, perceive and interpret things with clarity can be seen as a very dangerous flaw in the design of human beings, as this shortcoming may lead to the demise of an individual or even a group of people. The manner in which vision and perception of certain characters in Shakespeare’s play King Lear is obscured, is a testament of just that. Through very unique literal and figurative writing, Shakespeare clearly demonstrates to the audience or reader just how easily deceived human beings can be. A perfect example of this revelation is the character, the Earl of Gloucester, who is the helpless victim of conniving manipulation, cleverly conducted by his illegitimate son, Edmund.
What makes injustices so horrid is that they are not the victim's fault. Edmund himself plays absolutely no part in being conceived as a bastard son. All throughout his childhood, he is treated inferior to his legitimate brother Edgar and often has his mother insulted by his father. Gloucester calls Edmund’s mother derogatory terms like a whore, and even blames Edmunds conception solely on her. As soon as the reader starts reading the play, he or she is introduced to Gloucester's attitude toward his son when he states, “Though this knave came saucily into the world before he was sent for, yet his mother was fair. There was good sport in his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged.”(Shakespeare I, I 20-23). Throughout this derogatory speech, the “knave” is standing by doing nothing. Instead of being viewed an average son, Edmund is seen as a burden and
The emotional violence that Lear endeavours leads to his insanity, which ultimately plays a critical role in his development of a character. Similar to Lear’s revolution, Gloucester is the mirror image of Lear’s ego. Through Gloucester’s lack of appreciation and his selfish acts, he inherits the illusion of trust from him two sons – where only one stays loyal. Injustice causes the turning of Edmund – Gloucester’s evil son – shown through an un-natural uprising of father to son, ending ultimately with the betrayal between Gloucester and Edmund. Similarly to Lear
In both texts, individuals are destined to suffer. Regardless of the individual being rich or poor, moral or immoral or good-hearted, they are all impacted. In King Lear, individuals such as Gloucester, Edgar and Lear all suffer. Gloucester suffers due to his flaw of gullibility which causes him to misjudge Edgar and trust Edmund. Lear suffers psychologically due to the poor mistreatment by his malicious daughters. His inability to cope with his daughters shocking behavior leads to hate and anger resulting in his “wits to turn” (King Lear III ii 73). Lear’s resentment towards his daughters’ betrayal and continuous suffering pushes him to the verge of turning insane. Lear, once a powerful, rich man on top of the hierarchy, becomes a powerless,
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.
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.