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Explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents the characters of Edmund and Edgar in "King Lear".

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Introduction

Explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents the characters of Edmund and Edgar in "King Lear". The characterisation of Edmund and Edgar presents them as being individuals; however they are based on familiar dramatic character types. Edmund is depicted as partly dissatisfied, Machiavellian villain and Edgar is the weak, feeble character who turns hero through hardship and circumstance. Shakespeare focuses on the unfortunate consequences of their father's actions and how these implications shape their characters. Various presentation devices are used, as well as sentence structure, language, and events to portray the characters of Edmund and Edgar. Shakespeare uses Edgar's soliloquies to disclose his feelings and actions he will embark on. In his first, in Act II Scene III, Edgar tells the audience he is going to disguise himself as Mad Tom. "I will preserve myself: and am bethought To take the basest and most poorest shape That ever penury, in contempt of man, Brought near to beast:" By revealing this to us, Shakespeare gives the audience a greater understanding of the character, not only what he will be doing but also that he may be scared, fear for his life or that this character solves his problems by hiding. ...read more.

Middle

To directly contrast the traits of Edgar with Edmund, Shakespeare uses the same techniques but with the opposite effects. In this scene Edmund has very long lines showing that he is in control and has a lot to say on the subject. It can also be seen that punctuation is used throughout Edmund's speeches, "Brother, I advise you to the best; go armed: I am no honest man if there be any meaning towards you:" This use of punctuation creates slow sentences, clearly showing that the character is thinking about what they are saying, not being rash and speaking with confidence. It shows the audience that Edmund knows what he is doing. Finally, the language Shakespeare chooses to use for Edmund creates an entirely different tone to that of Edgar. He uses well constructed sentences with a range of varying calibre words such as "forbearance" and "credulous" which presents him as calm and confident, in stark contrast with the rash, frightened Edgar, in this point of the play. These techniques are utilised by Shakespeare throughout the play and for all characters, and are manipulated to show changes in characters as the play goes on. ...read more.

Conclusion

Shakespeare does this to illustrate to the audience that Edgar has now become the more dominant brother and it is he who now controls the situation. This rise in power of Edgar also coincides with Edmund's fall suggesting that only one of them can be the most powerful. Shakespeare's presentation of the characters Edgar and Edmund takes place on many levels. Their traits and the character personas are illustrated through literacy techniques, character beliefs, character actions, what they had to say and how much they said. The actions of a character and what they reveal to the audience, give blunt demonstrations as to what that character is like, what it is that they want and why they want it. It is the language, sentence structure and punctuation used by Shakespeare, though, that reveals many of the more subtle traits of a character, and how or why it is that they are able to achieve their accomplishments. Shakespeare also went as far as to use the beliefs of the era to influence the audience's perception of a character based on those beliefs. By using all of these techniques Shakespeare is able to build up a clear picture in his presentation of the King Lear characters Edgar and Edmund. ?? ?? ?? ?? Usman Saeed ...read more.

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