edmundlear Edmund of King Lear as Nietzsche's Free Spirit
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Edmund of King Lear as Nietzsche's Free Spirit
In King Lear, Shakespeare creates a brilliant tragedy whose plot is driven primarily by its villains. Of these, Edmund stands alone as a man who makes his fortune, surrounded by those who seize fortune only when it is handed to them. Shakespeare's ability to create a vivid, living character in the space of a few lines of speech triumphs in Edmund, who embodies a totally different moral system than that of Shakespeare's era. Three centuries later, Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy of the Free Spirit would respect these values.
Like Edmund, Nietzsche's unorthodox views have been deemed villainous ever since the time they were written. The Free Spirit is defined not by his attack on society's defined values, but the rejection of them. Unconstrained by the values of a society he did not chose, the Free Spirit makes his own path in the world, defining morality for himself and acting in a way which is truly free.
In Act I, Scene II, Edmund's character reveals itself. In his first soliloquy he clearly shows his knowledge of his situation, but at the same time questions its validity.
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 moon-shines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base? (I.2.1-6)
This reveals the fundamental makeup of Edmund's character - why should society name him anything for events over which he had no control? Why should he be deprived of anything simply because he was born a year too late?
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...ll to Power, Book I, Aphorism 55
3. Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 260
4. Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, all too human, page 4
5. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, page 90
6. Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 26
7. Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, all too human, page 61
8. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Prologue, part 9.
9. Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, all too human, Aphorism 230
1. Friedrich Nietzsche. Human, all too human, Bison Books, 1996.
2. Friedrich Nietzsche. The Will to Power. Bison Books, 1994.
3. Friedrich Nietzsche. Beyond Good and Evil. Penguin Publishing. London, 1973.
4. Friedrich Nietzsche. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Penguin Publishing. London, 1973.
5. Shakespeare, William. King Lear. Peerage books. Cambridge, 1921