Seeds of Evil

Topics: William Shakespeare, King Lear, Laurence Olivier Pages: 6 (1781 words) Published: May 6, 2014

Seeds of Evil
The greatness of Shakespeare’s plays and the reason why modern scholars still study Shakespeare is because the play’s themes, morals, and conflicts transcend time. The relevance of Shakespeare plays to modern time is important because even in modern times, the audience and the performers can learn new morals from the plays and enjoy the play by relating to the characters. Although the audience will definitely acquire some knowledge from Shakespeare’s plays, the interpretations and understanding of the morals depend heavily on how much the performers know the characters that the thespians play, especially in Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. Shakespeare’s “King Lear” has the most complex characters from all of the author’s plays. The antagonists are the most difficult characters to act out because a simple misuse of tone from the performer can have significant effects on the audience; therefore, explicating the antagonists from little hints in the play is very important. The performers and directors can find plenty of evidence, hints and clues in the play which proves that Edmund, Goneril and Regan are not merely simple characters that are only motivated by pure evil. For Example, a hint of why the antagonists are not as simple characters as stereotypical Shakespearian witch-like villains is because the antagonists lack a fool in which proves that the villains are merely misguided. Learning that the antagonists are not just simple characters is important because then, the performers and directors know that intricately learning the backgrounds of the villains can drastically improve the play; therefore, looking at the background and motives of each of the antagonists is key. One reason to the evil motives of the antagonists is because of status, especially for Edmund. Finally, an evident reason for the rebellion of the antagonists is because of family issues. The performers need to be informed of the turmoil, sadness and anger in the antagonist’s head in order to get the right tone of voice and gestures (correct gestures must also be made even when the character is speaking). The fool “Often serves as a chorus [and is]…a useful embodiment of objectivity to balance the improbabilities of COMEDY” (Charles Boyce 198). The reason why Edmund, Goneril and Regan lean so far to the spectrum of evil is because the villains do not have a fool to satire the antagonist’s actions and to ease their mind as the fool has with Lear. The only Characters in Shakespeare’s “King Lear” that have fools are Lear and Gloucester; therefore, Lear and Gloucester are the only characters that realizes their sins and enter into a metamorphosis, changing to become a better person. Edmund, Goneril and Regan, inversely do not have a fool; consequently, no one saves the antagonists from the path of evil. Although Edmund and the sisters portray the roles of villains until the end of the play, John F. Danby explores on the Fool and the fascinating sense that “While … [the Fool’s] heart makes him belong to the Lear-party, and while his loyalty to Lear himself is unmistakable, his head can only represent to him that meaning for Reason which belongs to the party of Edmund and the Sisters” (Shakespeare’s Doctrine of Nature 104). The Fool knows that Edmund and the sisters have a more reasonable cause to the actions than that of the Lear-party like when Cornwall and Regan put Kent in the stocks. The Fool says to Kent, “And thou hadst been set i’ th’ stocks for that question, / thou’dst well deserve it” (II. iv. 56-7). Kent clearly deserves the punishment no matter how annoying Oswald is. In conclusion, if Edmund, Goneril and Regan have fools of their own, there is a possibility of redemption and if there is redemption, there must be a good to begin with; therefore, Edmund, Goneril and Regan are not evil by nature. Also, having the Fool (the voice of reason) think that the villain’s actions are more reasonable implicates that the antagonists...
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