King Lear, Edmund

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In the final two lines of Act 1 Scene 2 Edmund unashamedly declares, ‘Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit:/All with me’s meet that I can fashion it.’ These words are very revealing not only about Edmund himself but also about other characters in the play who reason like Edmund. Discuss. It is apparent in the first two scenes of Act I that there are parallels between the treacheries of Gloucester's family and that of King Lear's. The key characters, Regan, Goneril and Edmund, suggest this parallel for the most part. Although Edmund's motive is more complicated than the sisters', they share several qualities in their acts of treachery. These qualities include their cleverness, insight, and the ability to tell lies smoothly. Consequently it enables them to deceive their fathers, and blind them from the truth. Edmund appears to all as a fine young gentleman who is loyal and brave. In reality, Edmund is a cunning, devious, opportunist who will stop at nothing to please himself. Gloucester and many others are tricked by Edmund's appearance. What Gloucester does not see or refuse to see, is the hatred Edmund has for him because of his cavalier treatment of him. Edmund wants all control of Gloucester's money and power. He fools both Edgar and Gloucester, destroying both their characters, he turns them against each other, causing chaos and destruction in the natural universe. Although Edmund, Regan and Goneril’s main motives are to inherit all their fathers' kingdom, Edmund seems to have a more complicated objective than the Lear sisters. In his soliloquy, he expresses his anger towards society because it has prevented him from inheriting Gloucester's kingdom, and furthermore, the words "bastard" and "base" give the impression that he is worthless: "...the curiosity of nations to deprive me" . For that reason, he wishes to counter that social hierarchy by attempting to climb on top of his legitimate half-brother, Edgar by cleverness. He manages to win his father...
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