King Lear - Visual Quotation

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Terms: Wheel of Fortune

Edmund. Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?
Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
More composition and fierce quality
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
Go to th' creating a whole tribe of fops
Got 'tween asleep and wake? Well then,
Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land.
Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
As to th' legitimate. Fine word- 'legitimate'!
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
Shall top th' legitimate. I grow; I prosper.
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

This quotation (1.2.16-22) is that Edmund speak to himself. In this soliloquy, Edmund asks nature why the social customs deprive his rights simply because he is not his father’s legitimate children, like his brother Edgar, who stands to inherit their father’s estate. Edmund’s monologue reveals his plan to undermine his brother’s position by tricking his father with a forged letter, which he presents to Gloucester.

Edmund is a bastard, and is located at the bottom of the wheel of fortune. His legitimate brother, Edgar, is sitting on top of the wheel. With the forged letter and his plan, he will make the wheel turning and let him move up and bring Edgar down.

Plot development: This is the shift of the play’s focus to Gloucester and Edmund, which parallels between this subplot and Lear’s familial difficulties. Edmund will make Gloucester believe him that Edgar will murder his father and share half of his revenue with Edmund. This is the beginning of another tragedy. Gloucester will betray his older legitimate son and will be betrayed by his younger illegitimate son.

Character development: This soliloquy shows that Edmund is an intelligent opportunist with disloyalty to his father and brother.

Terms: Wheel of Fortune

Edmund. How malicious is my fortune that I must repent to
be just! This is the letter he spoke of, which approves him an intelligent party to the advantages of France.
O heavens! That this treason were not- or not I the

This quotation (3.5.7-11) is that Edmund speaks to Cornwall. In this conversation, Edmund betrays his father and obtains Cornwall’s approval by releasing the letter from his father, which shows the details of France’s plan to aid the king Lear. Also this lets Cornwall see Gloucester’s action as treasonous.

After using the forged letter and other plans, Edmund promotes himself up from the bottom point of the wheel of fortune. By showing the letter to Cornwall and betraying his father, Edmund will mount himself on top of the wheel.

Plot development: Gloucester and Lear are both victims of two men – Edmund and Cornwall. Edmund makes excuses for betraying his father with the loyalty for his country. Cornwall appoints Edmund the Earl of Gloucester and asks him to find and arrest Edmund’s father. This is the development of Gloucester’s tragedy.

Character development: This soliloquy shows that Edmund is an intelligent opportunist with disloyalty to his father.

Terms: Pathetic Fallacy

Lear. Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks! You sulph'rous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o' th' world,...
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