Shakespeare's King Lear - Poor Edmund
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Poor Edmund of King Lear
I initially felt bad for Edmund. It must have been difficult growing up constantly second to
Edgar and being referred to as "the bastard." No one would envy him that.
But let's take a second look at poor Edmund. I'm sure that there were many
bastards in his time, but how many of them ended up indirectly gouging out
their fathers' eyes and trying to take over the kingdom? Was the Earl of
Gloucester really that rotten of a father that he drove his son to do all
According to my reading of the text, the Earl of Gloucester probably
paid mightily to send Edmund "out nine years" (presumably studying abroad)
(I.i.32). Gloucester admits that he had "so often blushed to acknowledge
him," but he seems to take some pride in how Edmund turned out, regardless
of his conception (I.i.10). It is assumed that Gloucester loves Edgar better
than Edmund, but, even so, do parents truly ever love children EXACTLY equally,
even under "legitimate" circumstances? Plus, we hear from Gloucester's
own mouth that though Edgar is legitimate and a year older than Edmund,
Edgar is "yet no dearer in [Gloucester's] account" (I.i.19-21).
Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Gloucester does love
Edgar much more than Edmund. Does that mean that Edmund gets to run around
wreaking havoc as revenge? The argument that Edmund as victim sounds an
awful lot like what we would term today, "The Abuse Excuse." Just because
Edmund was "abused" and Edgar is the "favorite" does not mean that Edmund
gets to do anything he wants to do. A couple of brothers by the name of
Menendez claimed that the abuse inflicted upon them allowed them to shoot
(repeatedly) their father (the alleged offender) and their mother
(for good measure). Is this what we are arguing for now? I don't
claim to know the details of that case in California, but by my reading
of this case, I saw little "excuse" for the actions of said bastard.
As to Christina's claim that "murder is murder," I wonder if she
really means that statement to carry to all circumstances. If shooting
(or stabbing) another person in self-defense is just "evil" as killing
someone for "fun," where does that leave us? With considerably fuller
jails, for one thing. And what of "military incidents," such as wars,
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Edmund Edmundlear King Lear Poor Gloucester Sure Bastard Excuse Earl
police actions, etc.? The victims are just as dead, I assure you.
Should we begin shipping our soldiers directly into prisons after their
"duty" is done? I am fairly pacifistic, but I see that sometimes the cruel,
hard fact of the matter is that we can't simply turn the other cheek.
At the very least Edgar fought (and killed) Edmund in a fair fight,
face-to-face. Besides, if we start defending all of Edmund's actions,
who gets to be the villain? And what is Shakespeare without a good
Shakespeare, William. "The Tragedy of King Lear." The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans, et al. 2nd ed. New York:
Houghton Mifflin, 1997. 1303-43.
Essay on Importance of Nothing in Shakespeare's King Lear
592 Words3 Pages
Importance of Nothing in William Shakespeare's King Lear
The Tragedy of King Lear has many important themes. One major theme concerns "nothing." The main focus around the discussion of "nothing" is that "nothing" is a many things. Nothing is what binds everything.
The first mention of "nothing" is when King Lear asks his daughters to profess how much they love him. The eldest daughters shower compliments upon him tickling his ears. Yet the Lear's favorite daughter Cordelia will only speak the truth. When asked what she can say to gain her a portion of land better than her sisters, she replies, "Nothing, my Lord" (1.1. ) He exclaims, "Nothing!" (1.1. ) and she responds, "Nothing" (1.1. ). Lear's answers, "Nothing will come of…show more content…
Then he asks Lear, "Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle" (1.4. )? This question should prod Lear to think of his earlier mistake of making a big ordeal out of Cordelia's "nothing." Ironically he responds, "nothing can be made out of nothing" (1.4. ), echoing what he said to Cordelia in 1.1. The Fool then tells Kent to "tell him so much the rent of his land comes to" (1.4. ). The answer to this, of course, would be "nothing." The King has given all his land to Goneril and Regan.
After Goneril walks into the room, he tells Lear "thou art an O without a figure" (1.4. ). An O without a figure would be a zero. Thus the Fool tells Lear that he is nothing. He continues by saying straightforwardly, "I am a Fool, thou art nothing"
(1.4. ). Remarks like this provide ample opportunity for Goneril to rebuke Lear for having an "all licens'd Fool" (1.4. ). In addition, the Fool calls Lear a "sheal'd peascod" (1.4. ). This is another way of saying he is empty. He is nothing.
These remarks provide a theme continuing throughout the story. The main theme is that "nothing" is what binds everything together. If Cordelia had not responded "nothing" then the King would be happy. He would have moved in with Cordelia and she would have supported him. Moreover, Cordelia would have kept her portion and would have married the Duke Burgundy. Thus, her "nothing" changed everything.
In addition, this nothing gives the play comic relief. The Fool