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edmundlear Edmund's Soliliquy in Act 5 Scene 1 of Shakespeare's King Lear

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Analysis of Edmund's Soliliquy in Act 5 Scene 1 in King Lear

The portion of `The Tragedy of King Lear' I chose begins on line 55 of act five scene one and continues to line 64. I chose this selection because it includes much information about plot and character. Prior to my selection Regan questions Edmund closely about his relationship with her sister, Goneril, because Regan suspects they have been intimate. Edmund denies these accusations at the beginning of act five scene one, but states his true intentions in his soliloquy starting on line 55. Shortly afterwards at the beginning of act five scene three Cordelia and King Lear are captured and held prisoner. In the selection I chose, Edmund expresses his true feelings about the love triangle he and the sisters Goneril and Reagan are in.

"... Neither can be enjoyed,

If both remain alive: to take the widow

Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril;

And hardly shall I carry out my side," (V, i, ll 58-61)

Edmund conveys how though both sisters are vying for his love and eventually his hand in marriage, he does not love either, and is only playing them for his own benefit; he just wants to increase his power. "Stands on me to defend, not to debate." (V, i, ll 69)

The selection I chose develops character in the play. Edmund's soliloquy shows how foolish the sisters really are, competing for the love of someone who is repulsed by the thought of them. Also it is ironic their rivalry that helped them get their land from Lear by outdoing each other with flattery for him is that what kills them, while their sister who didn't compete with false flattery against the two and got no ...

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Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril;

And hardly shall I carry out my side,

Her husband being alive." (V, i, ll 58-62)

This also reveals that Edmund is incapable of loving anyone because he is so overwhelmed with attaining power. Goneril and Regan's characters are also developed in this selection. Both of the sisters are blinded by their `love' for Edmund to the point where they put all other things aside to get his love, and ironically the one they both love so much kills them, as Goneril poisoned Regan because she feared Regan would steal Edmund from her. After finding out that Edmund is defeated, she takes her own life as well. Without this soliloquy, a great void would be left in the play. Goneril, Regan and Edmunds characters would not be fully developed, the plot would not be as complex or entertaining.
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