Theme Of Cruelty In King Lear

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Absolute in every child’s mind is the belief that they are right, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Until children grow up to raise children own their own, a parent’s disputation only inflates that desire to prove. Part and parcel to this, as one may find out through personal experience or by extension, cruelty towards parents is a reflection of a child’s own inadequacy (whether in large or small scale). In this sense, King Lear is a story of children with a desire to break past their hierarchal status. Whether it is the belief that a woman shall take a husband, and with that guard her inherited land, or what role bastards truly deserves in a society that preemptively condemns them. Cruelty at the hands of children accounts for almost…show more content…
Edmund’s discontent with the notion of bastardy is brought up furthermore in his soliloquy at the beginning of scene two: “Thou, nature, art my goddess. To thy law/ My services are bound. Wherefore should I/ Stand in the plague of custom…” (II.1-3). The notion of bastardy in Lear pushes Edmund to place his faith in his born traits as opposed to the system that has labeled him an outsider his whole life. He believes he is equal to his brother in every way—his mind and shape as true—and the only reason he is not aloud to prosper is because of a preconceived idea of the ideal child. Inevitably, Edmund wants to rebel against the system that has stifled him for so long. Gloucester is primarily responsible for Edmund’s actions because he in no way raised him equal to Edgar. Edmund’s goal to usurp his brother and earn the power he believes he deserves is due to the notion of bastardy in the play; Edmund questions “why brand they us with ‘base, base bastardy’” in his first soliloquy (II.10) . After all, even Kent attested to his fine demeanour. But, the steadfast notion of bastardy at the time drove Edmund to the point of betrayal because there was no hope for him in playing by the rules as they are fundamentally opposed to a bastard’s prosperity. With this soliloquy, Edmund positions himself as the more disserving…show more content…
It tainted his familial bonds and gave him a sense of determination to escape society’s value of him. The notion of bastardy drives this aspect of the plot and is the single most important idea when looking into the phenomenon of cruelty between Edmund and Gloucester in King Lear. Edmund’s story is tragic because there is no resolution for his biggest grievance apart from a larger paradigm shift, marking a change in society’s value of the bastard. It is safe to say that Edmund and Gloucester’s relationship was plagued by powers greater than themselves. Shakespeare elevates their relationship to start a dialogue about family and societal values—creating a deeply layered and tragic
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