• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Shakespeare present Edmund in King Lear?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How does Shakespeare present Edmund in King Lear? King Lear is a play about child - parent relationships, nature, Christianity and enlightenment. King Lear initiates with a King dividing up his land and bestowing it upon his three daughters. After being betrayed by his youngest born Cordelia, Lear banishes her and starts his struggle with madness. King Lear is a tragic play and ends with many characters dying after a bloody war. Shakespeare touched on many themes when creating his masterpiece and all of these can be voiced through Edmund which makes him an integral character to the play. Edmund is the illegitimate son of the Duke of Gloucester. He is one of the first characters mentioned in the play, and throughout the play he seems to be the personification of evil. The mendacious bastard betrays his brother and father before dying with little remorse. Shakespeare used a variety of literary techniques to convey his message about Edmund and used the villain as a pawn in the story about Good vs. Evil. Edmund is a godless character; he embraces the concept of humanism and refuses to answer to any divine being when he stresses "thou nature art my goddess" he instantly dismisses the notion of an abrahamic God. To be an atheist was still seen as "satanic" so for Shakespeare to present Edmund as faithless, it reasserts this notion of malevolence. ...read more.

Middle

This is a prime example of how Edmund is usually only talking to one person in a secretive manner. This secrecy simply emphasises his slyness and deceptiveness. The fact that he never appears publicly also brings his sociability into question. It's obvious that Edmund is disgusted by his company therefore is rarely seen with them. Edmund's language in King Lear is very unique, unlike his counterparts he refrains from long speeches about inconsequential subjects, instead he uses very sharp poignant language. Edmund's speech similar to any nobility in the play is very formal. Similar to the speech of Goneril and Regan when they eulogised their father at the beginning of the play, Edmund through his dialogue shows much respect. When answering his father he always attaches "my lord" this could be interpreted as sarcastic. He in no way respects his father but despises him, therefore by adding the lord he lulls him into a false sense of security and it also adds comical effect. Edmund continues to show the utmost respect and shock in light of his brother's supposed treachery" I hope his heart is not/in the contents." This politeness and fa´┐Żade of naivety is very frustrating to the audience as we all know he was the conspirator behind his brother's demise. Edmund's speech is also littered with negativities. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also if we look at the background of Edmund it's no surprise he turned out to be such an individualist, the neglect of his father and the condescending manner of society meant Edmund had to go it alone. Instead of criticising Edmund really the audience should be criticising the society that forced in into a life of intolerance, greed and isolation. Despite apparent vindication for Edmund's actions I feel Shakespeare's overall presentation of Edmund is one of a malevolent Machiavellian. He possesses no traits of the angelic Cordelia, however is more like her vicious sisters Regan and Goneril. It was Shakespearian custom to have a out and out villain and Edmund adopts this role flawlessly. By using an array of literary techniques ranging from language to role Shakespeare has created a monster, someone who has no qualms with the murder or betrayal. Edmund is not someone who commits evil acts however manipulates others to do his dirty work. By doing this Shakespeare has made Edmund even more hated, he has not battled for power however stolen it through deceptiveness and deceit. Edmund was a Darwinist who loved a challenge and had a voracious attitude to life. Like A. Wilkinson said in his essay which explored Saints and Sinners in King Lear, Edmund "possesses a deep and black nature which is opposed to all things of beauty and light". Edmund is the personification of evil in King Lear and is a hero of darkness. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level King Lear section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level King Lear essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How effectively does Shakespeare present Lear's loss of power in the play?

    4 star(s)

    when he is addressed as "your grace" in act three scene four. By the time Lear is reunited with Cordelia his use of language has changed dramatically. This is shown through his begging of Cordelia to "forget and forgive". Before his loss of power, he never sought the forgiveness of anyone, so this request emphasises this loss.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    The influence Act 1 has on the rest of the play in King Lear

    3 star(s)

    This therefore expresses his vital mistake once again of saying empty words without realising his faults and the problems it may lead to; such as his homelessness whilst caught in the storm - with nothing around for him to take shelter under, just like he will have no people to

  1. In Shakespeare's King Lear, the Fools main function is to play three major roles. ...

    as like this as a crab does to a crab," meaning that Regan and Goneril are of the same nature and that there is no need for him to go to her after Goneril has rejected his knights (Act1, Scene 5, line 18).

  2. Comparing and contrasting both the characters of Edmund and Edgar In king Lear.

    Now gods stand up for bastards". This is dramatic irony. Edmund wants to show every one that bastards can come out on top and he can achieve more than his brother. He wants to inherit from his father because he doesn't think its fare that Edgar should have the lot and him to be left with nothing.

  1. Social injustices in King Lear

    'the resentment of Goneril and Regan, weary of their being over passed over for their sister' Bloom states this obvious as Lear's love for Cordelia was genuine which is a cause for Lear being an outcast into the storm, as well as Goneril and Regan's lack of emotion to their

  2. To What Extent Can King Lear Be Described as the Tragic Hero of Shakespeares ...

    'Which of you shall we say doth love us most That we our largest bounty may extend Where nature doth with merit challenge?' (1,1,50-52) He is easily flattered by Goneril and Regans declarations, in which they claim to love their father more than anything and anyone.

  1. Compare and contrast madness: its possible causes; its manifestations; its consequences; and its resolution, ...

    In King Lear, the reversal of roles is a further expansion of the disarray caused by Lear's madness and subsequent decisions. Following Lear's surrender of the crown, one finds oneself in a kingdom not only of chaos but of switching roles.

  2. The Nature of Redemption and the Limits of Pessimism in King Lear

    In the first place, we have no reason to presume that a work of art must be congenial or agreeable in some way in order for it to possess worth. Aristotle?s famous definition of tragedy actually requires the ?pessimistic? emotions of fear and pity to be forcefully conveyed to the audience.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work