King Lear Essay

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Edmund’s Soliloquy Analysis
In this passage taken from King Lear by William Shakespeare, Edmund the illegitimate son of Gloucester and brother of Edgar, has clear rage for the stereotype he is placed under. Edgar, Gloucester’s legitimate son, will inherit all of his father’s land. By presenting the rage of Edmund Shakespeare carefully takes advantage of effective rhetorical devices in order to promote Edmund’s argument and further his stance on the issue. In this passage Shakespeare makes tactful use of repetition, and ponders multiple rhetorical questions in order to capture the extent of Edmund’s beliefs of jealousy and revenge.

By constantly restating and repeating the words “bastard” and “legitimate”, Edmund truly demonstrates all the negative and ill minded connotations associated with being the younger child but also an illegitimate as well. These disapproving words that commonly relate to Edmund force him to “Stand[s] in a plague of custom.”(1.2.3) Hindrances are present only because he is younger or “some twelve or fourteen moon shines Lag of a brother.”(1.2.5-6) Edmund burdened and held back by the implications that were given to him at birth, wishes to use greed and revenge to make his situation favorable. With repetition he genuinely portrays how he himself hears the outside world. He is constantly referred to as not worthy, as a “bastard” or even “illegitimate.” Edmund will not stand for this adverse diction and will fight the negativity that people associate with this “legitimacy.”

Along with repetition of powerful and meaningful diction, Shakespeare employs a series of rhetorical questions to exhibit a sense of doubt in society’s view of Edmund. He constantly asks, “Why they brand us with base? with baseness? bastardy? base,

base?”(1.2.9-10), trying to show his pain and disagreement with the status of being illegitimate. This use of questioning society really represents his whole view throughout the passage. With the use of this speech,...
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