King Lear

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Edmund is seen as a 2 dimensional character who at first appears to be a man with manners and etiquette but his manipulative and duplicitous side is soon revealed. The deterioration of Edmund’s integrity is a study on the nature of life and human nature. His aim to relinquish is father of his power is an example of the carnival theory – a literary depiction of a reversal when power structures change places  (Mikhail Bakhtin). Although this theory is usually applied towards children’s literature, Shakespeare uses this technique in order for the audience to empathise with Gloucester and bringing about catharsis within us. Edmund’s duplicity towards his own brother and father enables the audience to identify with characters evoking powerful emotions. Throughout the passage, Edmund is seen to warn his brother Edgar to “Forbear Gloucester’s presence” because their father has been offended by Edgar somehow. Edmund is established as a duplicitous character almost immediately because the audience has seen Ed himself manipulate Gloucester. Shakespeare’s use of dramatic irony not only engages the reader but also gives them an insight into Edmund’s true personality. This serves a pantomime style purpose where the audience understands Edmunds ill intentions yet Edgar cannot. Once again the playwright is influencing the audience’s negative feelings towards Edmund and increases sympathy for Edgar due to his helplessness. The structure of the text pays a key role in presenting Edmund’s duplicity; the extract begins with an aside where Edmund states that his cue is “villainous melancholy”. This automatically establishes the themes of evil and wrong-doing capturing the reader’s attention and curiousity about what Edmund is about to do. The extract soon ends with a soliloquy in which Edmund inform us that his “practices ride easy”. This leaves the audience surprised at his nonchalance and lack of remorse. Within the passage, the audience is constantly reminded of Edmund being...
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